Leicester Philharmonic Choir is set to perform Messiah at De Montfort Hall on 21st March 2020.
In a truly historic record, this will be the 91st concert of Messiah by the ‘Phil’, (as the choir is fondly known), to have been performed in the last 134 years!
The first outing of Messiah by the Phil to take place was in 1886, conducted by Herbert Marshall, a Leicester concert impresario and piano dealer who was subsequently knighted and became Lord Mayor of Leicester.
From 1922 to 1934 Sir Henry Wood, founder of the Proms, was the Phil’s official conductor and it was he who established the tradition of an annual performance of Handel’s Messiah that persisted for many years.
This latest concert will see the use of Baroque instruments, contemporary to the piece, and with soloists Alexandra Kidgell of The Sixteen, Benjamin Williamson, a specialist countertenor, Ben Thapa, formerly of G4 X Factor fame and Felix Kemp, who will soon debut at the Royal Opera House.
The current Director of Music at the Phil and 18th century specialist is Dr Stephen Bullamore, who says that this musical tradition has become a thread running through Leicestershire’s history of performing arts. “I think this incredible run demonstrates the importance of music in Leicester’s history, and one of which the city can take some pride. Every performance is unique, and I aim to highlight the drama inherent in the text and music whilst remaining as faithful as possible to what we know of the composer’s intentions.”
Handel’s Messiah was written in 1741 and remains the German composer’s best-known work, containing the much loved ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ favoured by choirs the world over.
The De Montfort Hall concert begins at 5 pm in a further move to make the experience accessible to families who want to share this experience together. “The music contains moments of poignancy and moments of triumph; the whole gamut of human emotion is represented,” said Dr Bullamore. “It encompasses the great stories of our culture: the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. Although many no longer consider themselves as Christian, these themes of redemption resonate strongly. The music highlights these themes and takes the listener on an emotional journey.”
The Phil also boasts a long history to Leicester’s De Montfort Hall, the venue for the concert. Since its inauguration in 1913, the Phil Choir has performed regularly at the venue throughout its history, and says Dr Bullamore, is the perfect venue for Handel’s Messiah. “The Phil will give you a performance that will energise your soul, making you part of a living tradition stretching forward and backward in time. Leicester boasts one of the finest concert halls in the country and one of the finest choirs, and for this performance we have engaged world-class soloists and orchestra to bring Messiah to life.
“It will be an experience to treasure for the audience and the musicians alike and I look forward to continuing in the Phil’s historic relationship with this beautiful music in such a fine concert hall.”