Messiah at Westminster Abbey in association with BBC Radio 3

14 April 2009 at 7:00 pm

Handel's monument in Westminster AbbeyHandel Messiah

The Choir of Westminster Abbey
St. James’s Baroque

Ailish Tynan soprano
Sarah Connolly mezzo-soprano
Paul Agnew tenor
Jonathan Lemalu bass-baritone

James O’Donnell conductor

Tickets: £10 £16 £20 £30 £40 £50 (subject to availability)

Box Office:
020 7638 8891 (9.00 am – 8.00 pm daily)
booking fees apply

Westminster Abbey in association with BBC Radio 3 is to stage a performance of Handel’s most celebrated work, Messiah, on the day of the 250th anniversary of the composers death and in the place where he is buried.

The Choir of Westminster Abbey is joined by period-instrument orchestra St. James’s Baroque and soloists Ailish Tynan, Sarah Connolly, Paul Agnew and Jonathan Lemalu. The performance will be conducted by James O’Donnell, the Abbey’s Organist and Master of the Choristers, and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, 90-93 FM, on DAB Digital Radio, Digital TV, online and across Europe via the European Broadcasting Union.

Handel has a special association with Westminster Abbey. The German-born composer made London his home for over 40 years and composed his celebrated Coronation Anthems for the coronation of George II in 1727. Zadok the Priest, the most famous of the four anthems, has been sung at every coronation since.

Handel is buried in Poets’ Corner in the south transept of the Abbey, where an imposing monument bears a life-size statue of the composer by the sculptor Louis-François Roubiliac. Unveiled in 1762, it is thought to be an exact likeness as the face was modelled from a death mask. Directly in front of him is the score of I know that my Redeemer liveth from Messiah.

Handel’s funeral was attended by about 3,000 people and the choirs of the Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Chapels Royal sang at the service. Above the monument a tablet records the Handel festival or ‘Commemoration’ of 1784. This series of concerts of Handel’s music was given by a vast number of singers and instrumentalists and established a fashion for large-scale performances of Handel’s choral works throughout the nineteenth century and much of the twentieth.

The concert will be available online for up to 7 days after the broadcast at bbc.co.uk/radio3. It is part of BBC Radio 3’s Composers of the Year 2009 season: www.bbc.co.uk/composers.

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