Handel’s ‘Messiah’ will be performed by Wellington Choral Society at St John’s Church, Wellington on Saturday 24 March at 7.30pm.
One of the most popular of all oratorios, ‘Messiah’ is traditionally performed at Christmas but it was originally intended to be sung at Easter. It was premiered in April 1742 in Dublin in aid of debtors incarcerated in the city’s debtors’ prison, a fate which Handel himself had only just escaped. The libretto was written in English, the country where Handel had lived since 1712.
The composer wrote the oratorio in just 24 days – the equivalent of 15 notes per minute – but it had a cool reception when first performed in London in 1743. It gained in popularity, however, and, in 1750, a performance at The Foundling Hospital in London as a fundraiser was over-subscribed; thereafter, repeat performance every year raised thousands of pounds for the charity founded to accommodate, care for and educate babies and children abandoned by mothers at a time of appalling poverty in the city. ‘Messiah’ subsequently became one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.
Wellington Choral Society was founded in 1940 but its roots go back to the National School’s master, William Manley, whose first concert in Wellington Town Hall in 1855 became an annual event. He established the Wellington Harmonic Society in 1871 which continued until the 1930’s. After a short break in its activities, the Society was revived under its new name, Wellington Choral Society.
Tickets for ‘Messiah’ are on sale at Odette’s Tea Room, 27 High Street, Wellington (01823 667919), at Taunton Visitors’ Centre (01823 340470) and online at www.wellingtonchoralsociety.org.uk. Tickets may also be available at the door.