Now established as a fixture in the Cathedral’s festive calendar, Handel’s Messiah returns to Salisbury Cathedral on Saturday 14 December, with the City of London Sinfonia joining the full Cathedral Choir (men, girls and boys) and four distinguished soloists Jennifer France, Claudia Huckle, Benjamin Hulett and Felix Kemp.
David Halls, the Cathedral’s Director of Music, conducts.
The idea of writing the Messiah was put forward by the librettist Charles Jennens, who frequently worked with Handel. Handel began composing the work at the end of August 1741 and completed it in just 24 days, an astonishing achievement.
Its composition coincided with an invitation from the third Duke of Devonshire (and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland) for Handel to travel to Dublin and perform his works there. Its premiere, five months after Handel’s arrival in there, was cause for comment by Jennens, who wrote that ‘it was with some mortification to me to hear that instead of performing the Messiah here he has gone into Ireland with it.’
Seven hundred people attended the premiere in April 1742, the Dublin News Letter describing the work as ‘far surpassing anything of that Nature which has been performed in this or any other Kingdom.’
The first performance on the mainland was in the Covent Garden Theatre, London in the following year. A performance that marked the beginning of an unprecedented sequence of performances which is unbroken to this day.
Speaking about the Messiah, conductor David Halls, Salisbury Cathedral’s Director of Music said:
“The genius of Handel and Jennens, in knitting together biblical texts and challenging evocative music, is to create a work which tells a complex story of hope and fear, longing and yearning, and judgement and comfort, a rich and varied evocation of God’s love.”
For those wishing to eat ahead of the concert, the Cathedral Refectory is offering a special two course concert supper ahead of the performance. The menu is available on the Cathedral website and pre-booking is essential. To book a dinner please contact the Refectory on firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 01722555175. All diners must be seated by 17.30.
The performance starts at 19.00. Ticket prices: £17- £37, under 18’s £7.50 with an adult. Book via the link below or call 01722 320333.