Bigger and Better
The first performances of Handel’s Messiah featured a choir of over twenty voices, all men and boys, from the St Patrick’s and Christ Church cathedral choirs. The were joined by two women soloists, Christina Maria Avoglio singing soprano, and the stage actress and contralto Susannah Cibber. They were accompanied by an organist and a small orchestra. In 1784 in commemoration (one year early) of the centennial of Handel’s birth, Messiah was performed in Westminster Abbey with a choir and orchestra of collectively five hundred choristers and musicians. The tradition of gargantuan performances had begun, and has continued through the excesses of the Victorian age, and through the twentieth century. This tradition of using large choirs has an authenticity of its own, and gives many more people the wonderful experience of participating in the performance of this great music – no small consideration!
Messiah reigns forever and ever
Handel died in 1759, but Messiah lives on. Messiah marks the beginning of ‘classic’ music in the sense that it has never had to be revived. Messiah is the first ‘classic’ in the contemporary repertoire as it is ‘perpetually-in-the-repertoire’.
After three London performances of Messiah in 1743, it was performed there again in 1745 at the King’s Theatre in the Haymarket, and returned in 1749 and 1750 in Covent Garden, before beginning its annual performances at London’s Foundling Hospital.
Since its first performance in Dublin in 1742, there has not been a year in which Handel’s Messiah hasn’t been performed somewhere in the world.
Be part of the continuing history of this world-famous and iconic music.
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Handel’s Messiah Sydney rehearses and performs on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. We acknowledge First Nations people as the original story tellers and music makers of this ancient land, and celebrate their deep connection to this country.
Radio Community Chest Incorporated (ABN 80 990 419 897) is a registered charity. Through our annual presentations of Handel’s Messiah we are committed to encouraging a love for choral music; and surpluses are used to assist the needy in our city.
© 2023 Radio Community Chest Incorporated