Along with the Bach Passions, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, Messiah is arguably the greatest musical storytelling in existence, combining arias and choruses setting an inspired libretto from Biblical texts compiled by Charles Jennens. It quickly became a popular and accessible work, especially at Christmas and Easter, beloved of audiences and ideally suited to, and responsible for, the growing British amateur choral tradition unique to Handel’s adopted country.
In the late 1970s the Festival Choir’s founder and conductor Dr John Coope invited some friends to sing Messiah for fun, gathered round the piano played by the Choir’s current conductor Donald Judge. It was such a success it was opened the following year to the public. Around that time, Dr Jean Coope took up the ‘cello, and new-found string-playing friends were invited to form an orchestra that instrumentalists clamoured to join. Messiah for
All quickly grew into a sell-out annual event, with all proceeds going to local god causes, this year High Peak Food Bank, a charity supported by Choir members Judith (RIP) and Ambrose Smith. Once again Choir members and friends will sing the solos, Nicola Bright will lead the orchestra, with Chris Smith, trumpet and Andy Donaldson, continuo.
With some cuts to a work running to more than 3 hours, that still allow the most celebrated choruses and arias to feature, the event will conclude around 10 pm, with a break for refreshments part way through.
Many singers bring their own score, preferably the Watkins Shaw edition published by Novello. But the Choir has a limited number of copies to borrow on the night – please request one when booking.
The image of the Choir is by local artist Nola McGaul. The portrait of Handel (in the public domain) is by Thomas Hudson (1701-1779) from the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge.
Tickets only available from 01625 511881
Why not visit Bollington Festival Choir at www.bollfestchoir.org.uk.