The first performance of Handel’s Messiah took place in Dublin, on the 13thApril 1742.
The fashionable ladies of the audience were begged to leave the hoops which held out their skirts (as was the mode of the day) at home, and the gentlemen asked not to wear their swords, because of the anticipated size of the crowd in the Music Hall that night.
The Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir’s performance of Handel’s Messiah in Wakefield Cathedral on Sunday 25thNovember at 6.30 will set no such dress code, though clearly it will not wish to encourage the wearing of four foot wide dresses and will certainly ban dangerous weapons.
‘The Messiah’ is an unashamedly, gloriously, wonderful work. It is the single most performed piece of ‘classical’ music and is heard by more people in the world than any other. And with good reason. Harry Christopher, founder and conductor of ‘The Sixteen’ says ‘Messiah represents Handel's direct, personal response to the Bible, but the pacing remains essentially operatic. He was always an opera man, anxious to tell his story dramatically. The overture brilliantly sets the mood for the rest of the parts, filling us with a sense of hope and lightness. Then Handel launches into the sublime Comfort Ye, which calms everyone down. It's Handel saying: "I'm going to make you listen, because this is a long story." He takes you into another world and has this ability to uplift people, then calm them, before taking them up again. As a result, Messiah never fails.’
With soloists Bibi Heal (Soprano); Beth McKay (Alto); Toby Ward (Tenor) and Miles Taylor (Bass); the Amici Ensemble and the Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir, all under the baton of the exacting and exuberant leadership of Andrew Padmore the audience are guaranteed a glorious mosaic of musical moods and moments, from the drama of ‘For Unto Us A Child Is Born’, the pathos of ‘He Was Despised’, the simplicity and beauty of ‘I Know That My Redeemer Liveth’, the monumental ‘Hallelujah Chorus’, through to the climatic ‘Worthy Is The Lamb’ with its intricate and final ‘Amen’, with many and varied glories in-between.
Surely it will be a night to remember.