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Take a pew for the Messiah

Hallelujah! There’s a great choice of church performances of Handel’s oratorio over the coming weeks

01 December, 2017 — By Sebastian Taylor

Balthasar Denner’s portrait of Handel, who composed his great oratorio in 1741

Heaps of Handel’s Messiah are being performed over the next three weeks or so, offering a huge variety of choice to would-be audiences. Small-scale, as Handel intended, there’s no substitute for hearing the piece in a church. Handel’s own church, St George’s Hanover Square, is the perfect setting. But the performances at Union Chapel and St John’s Smith Square should be equally rewarding. Those at St James’s Piccadilly and St Martin-in-the-Fields promise to delight.

What concert halls lack in intimacy is more than made up by some fine line-ups at Cadogan Hall and Kings Place. For the grand performance, the choice is between the Royal Festival Hall, Barbican and Royal Albert Hall. The best undoubtedly being the RAH’s which has terrific soloists and massed choirs that should split your ears with a thunderous Hallelujah!! Chorus.

Sunday, December 3, 6pm, Cadogan Hall, SW1. Soprano Grace Davidson/Tenebrae/English Chamber Orchestra.
Monday, December 4, 7.15pm, Union Chapel, N1. Soprano Elin Manahan Thomas/Choir of Clare College, Cambridge/ Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment.
Thursday, December 7, 7pm, St George’s Hanover Square, W1, 7.30pm. Soprano Arianna Vendittelli/Choir of St George’s.
Friday, December 8, St John’s Smith Square, SW1. Soprano Eline Vandenheede/St John’s Voices & Orchestra.
Thursday, December 14, 7.30pm, Kings Place, N1. Soprano Erica Eloff/Hanover Chorus & Band.
Friday, December 15, 7.30pm, St Martin-in-the-Fields, WC2, 7.30pm. By candlelight, English Chamber Choir/Belmont Ensemble.
Royal Festival Hall, 7.30pm – performed in full period costume by candlelight. Soprano Jennifer France/City of London Choir/ Mozart Festival Orchestra.
Saturday, December 16, St James’s Piccadilly, W1, 7.30pm. By candlelight, soprano Helen Semple/ Six Centuries Chamber Choir/Linden Baroque.
St Martin-in-the-Fields, 7.30pm. By candlelight, English Chamber Choir/Belmont Ensemble.
Tuesday, December 19. Royal Albert Hall, Soprano Ailish Tynan/mezzo Renata Pokupic/ Toby Spence/bass Sir Willard White/ Highgate Choral Society & three other choirs/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Wednesday, December 20, 7pm, Barbican, EC2. Soprano Mary Bevan/counter-tenor Reginald Mobley/tenor Thomas Hobbs/baritone Christopher Perves’ Academy of Ancient Music/Choir of AAM.
Saturday, December 23, 7.30pm, St John’s Smith Square, SW1. Soprano Anna Dennis/Polyphony/Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

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