London Handel Orchestra

…is there a finer small baroque band in this city?, November 2010

The London Handel Orchestra, which is made up of some of London’s finest professional baroque players and is directed by Adrian Butterfield and Laurence Cummings, was formed in 1981 by Denys Darlow to perform at the annual London Handel Festival.  It has gained an excellent reputation for historically-informed performance and contributed greatly to the revival of interest in Handel’s music over that period. The Orchestra performs throughout the Festival at venues including Handel’s church, St George’s, Hanover Square, the Royal College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music and St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.  It also gives concerts at venues throughout the country outside the Festival period and has performed at the Three Choirs Festival, the Chelsea Festival, the Windsor Festival, the Oslo Church Music Festival, Tilford Bach Festival and at the Barber Institute, as well as for the opening of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in April 2002 in St George’s Chapel, Windsor.  The 2011 London Handel Festival included Rodelinda, Saul and Comus as well as the annual Good Friday performance of Bach’s St John Passion.

Recordings include Handel’s Aminta e Fillide and The Triumph of Time and Truth conducted by Denys Darlow (Hyperion) and the premiere of Handel’s opera Silla (Somm). The first recording of the 1732 version of the oratorio Esther, conducted by Laurence Cummings, was released in December 2007 and was Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine.  Joshua followed, recorded live at the 2008 London Handel Festival.

In Handel’s anniversary year, 2009, a video was made by Brandcast of the rehearsals for Theodora – with interviews with Laurence Cummings, the artistic director, and the stars of the show – to hear what they felt about the man Handel, his place in London, his festival and his music.  You can watch the video at

“Delivered with exuberant panache by Adrian Butterfield, these [startling bursts of passagework] brought well-deserved cheers from the capacity audience…Butterfield and his team responded with a performance that had the crowd shouting for more”
Birmingham Post, Feb 2008

“At the start of the 31st London Handel Festival, St George’s was full to capacity, as the London Handel Singers and London Handel Orchestra lined up for still more Lenten entertainment. This was one of their finest hours.

“Although the lengthy three-part oratorio has no blockbusters until the very end, Laurence Cummings set a cracking pace, particularly for the storytelling recitatives, so that action and reflection followed on from each other with real momentum. With Joshua himself, the chorus are prime movers – and, from the start, with Allan Clayton declaiming from the pulpit and the Singers energising every vividly audible word, the entry of the Israelites into Canaan was swift and sure.  Clayton is that rare thing: an English tenor of lithe yet robust and unmannered muscle. His sidekick, Caleb, was sung expressively by the light bass George Humphreys. Achsah, Caleb’s daughter, was sung with sweet radiance and considerable agility by the soprano Katherine Manley; and Othniel, her beloved, by the mezzo Alexandra Gibson – both finalists in earlier Handel Singing Competitions.

“Handel wrote them into the story to provide pastoral relief from all that military glory. And, with Katy Bircher’s flute and Adrian Butterfield’s sweet violin, they vied with linnet and thrush in the melodious grove. Coppery horns and trumpets were splendidly on cue as the walls of Jericho fell – and, after much moralising, the conqu’ring hero approached in a dance-like chorus, and Manley sang every bit as exultantly as if she had indeed possessed Jubal’s lyre and Miriam’s tuneful voice.”
Handel’s Joshua, Hilary Finch, The Times

2012 concert dates

27 May – Tilford Bach Festival, Bach St John Passion, All Saints Church, Tilford, Surrey
with soloists including Julia Doyle, conducted by Adrian Butterfield

24 April – London Handel Festival, Messiah in the 1742 Dublin version
St George’s Hanover Square, preceded by a talk by Dr Ruth Smith

21 April – London Handel Festival, Il Furibondo with Julia Doyle at the Wigmore Hall
Francesco Geminiani, Mrs Arne and the Concerto Grosso in England, directed from the violin by Adrian Butterfield

11 April – London Handel Festival, Handel Singing Competition 2011 Finalists’ Showcase, St George’s Hanover Square

6 April – London Handel Festival, Bach St Matthew Passion, St George’s Hanover Square

26 to 29 March - London Handel Festival, Riccardo primo, re d’Inghilterra, Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music

15 March – London Handel Festival, final of Handel Singing Competition, St George’s Hanover Square


Please contact us for a fully updated biography for concert programmes


Silete venti with Julia Doyle
Handel’s Silete venti is a wonderful piece, not often performed, and it is here paired with Saeviat tellus for the same forces, 2 oboes and strings with solo soprano
Handel Sonata a 5 (Violin Concerto) in B flat major HWV288
Handel Concerto Grosso Op.3 No.1 HWV 312 in B flat major
Handel Saeviat tellus HWV240
Handel Concerto Grosso Op.6 No.1 HWV 319 in G major
Handel Silete venti HWV242
Tribute to Corelli (1653-1713)


Director Adrian Butterfield


Tribute to Corelli (1653-1713)


Handel Sonata a Cinque (Violin Concerto) in B flat major

Corelli Concerto Grosso Op.6/7 in D major

Muffat Sonata No.5 ‘Armonico Tributo’ in G major


Handel Concerto Grosso Op.6/6 in G minor

Muffat Sonata No.1 ‘Armonico Tributo’ in D major

Corelli arr. Geminiani ‘La Folia’ in D minor



A programme to mark the 300th anniversary of the death of Corelli


Instrumentation: + organ/harpsichord + archlute with 2 violins doubling on viola for Muffat

Handel: Coronation Anthems


No. 1 – Zadok the Priest (6′)

No. 2 – Let thy hand be strengthened (9′)

Silete venti – 28′

Concerti Grossi

No. 3 – The King shall rejoice (12′)

No. 4 – My heart is inditing  (13′)

Chandos Anthems


Chandos Anthems

No. 7 – My song shall be alway (21′)

No. 9 – O praise the Lord with one consent (25′)

JS Bach Oboe and Violin Concerto in C minor BWV1060

No. 11 – Let God arise (22′)


Handel: Joshua
Handel: Joshua

GF Handel
An oratorio in Three Parts

Laurence Cummings conductor
Katherine Manley Achsah
Alexandra Gibson Othniel
Allan Clayton Joshua
George Humphreys Caleb
Richard Rowntree An Angel

London Handel Orchestra
Adrian Butterfield leader
London Handel Singers

SOMMCD 240-2
Recorded live in St George’s Hanover Square, London, W1 on 13 March 2008

Handel: Esther
Handel: Esther

GF Handel

To celebrate
25th London Handel Festival 2002
recorded 23 & 25 April 2002 at St George’s Church, Hanover Square

Laurence Cummings conductor
Rosemary Joshua Esther, Queen of Persia
Rebecca Outram Israelite Woman
Susan Bickley Mordecai
James Bowman Ahasuerus
Christopher Purves Haman
London Handel Orchestra
Adrian Butterfield leader
London Handel Choir

“Handelians will be flocking to this one, but so should everybody. It is also a world premiere. A remarkable job of musical excavation has given us Handel’s second version of Esther, the oratorio that made his name in London.  An exciting, important and touching recording.

The first English Oratorio? It’s hard to imagine a better introduction.”

Editor’s Choice, Gramophone, January 2008
SOMMCD238/9 – SOMM Recordings

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London Handel Players.Tilford 10 large Chris Christodoulou

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