About 80 years before Handel's "Messiah," there was Heinrich Schütz's "Weihnachtshistorie (Historia der Geburt Jesu Christi)," or to put it simply, "Christmas Story of the Birth of Jesus Christ." Written about 1660 (when Schütz was in his 70's) and published in 1664, it is a modest but colorful retelling of the familiar biblical accounts — including Mary and Joseph, angels, wise men, shepherds, and King Herod. Schütz has never attained the popularity of Bach or Handel, but he is a huge figure in baroque music, revered by Bach himself (who borrowed the idea of having the narrator as a tenor Evangelist for his Passions). You can hear a rare performance of Schütz's lovely work this Thursday in the Memorial Art Gallery's Fountain Court. Eastman students make up the vocal and period-instrumental forces; the latter include the MAG's beautiful Italian Baroque Organ.
Heinrich Schütz's "Christmas Story" will be performed Thursday, December 18, at Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Avenue. 7:30 p.m. Admission is free with Gallery admission, which is half-price on Thursdays. mag.rochester.edu.