Monday, October 18, 2021

Handel’s Messiah Returns to London’s Royal Albert Hall as England’s COVID-19 Restrictions

The Royal Choral Society returns to the Royal Albert Hall this weekend for its annual performance of Handel’s Messiah – which was delayed due to Good Friday due to the pandemic.

The performance will be one of the first to take place at the venue in Kensington, London, as the restrictions of COVID-19 are still being eased in England under Boris Johnson’s road map outside the lock.

The Royal Albert Hall (RAH), one of the most iconic venues in London, opens on 29 May with a series of social-distance events before returning to a full house from 6 July.

According to social distance rules, the RAH will only release 1,000 tickets for each of the concerts in its program before July – about 20 percent of its capacity before pandemics.

The RCS performed the Messiah of Commerce – composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel – almost every Good Friday for almost 150 years.

The only exceptions to this tradition were during the Blitz in 1940 and amid the COVID-19 exclusion.

Last year, the RCS decided to stream their performance remotely, rather than cancel it altogether.

The Royal Choral Society performed the Hallelujah Choir from Handel’s Messiah on Good Friday in 2020. (Royal Choral Society)

But the choir plans to work with great return on May 30 – with Richard Cooke, director of RCS’s music, conducting the emotional piece for the 25th year.

Cooke spoke before the performance NTD that Messiah is a popular piece of choir because of ‘its mere form in terms of composition’.

“You go through the overture and immediately you are launched into the depths of ‘comfort my people’, the beautiful recitative that the singing party begins, and throughout the work there are moments of great gripping.”

He adds the sense of opportunity in the piece as it reaches the Hallelujah choir and the aria: “I know my Savior lives.”

“Commerce has really achieved a splendor in the last part of Messiah, it has gone on throughout, but for me it is an increasingly humble and uplifting experience.”

Epoch Times Photo
Richard Cooke, conductor and music director of the Royal Choral Society, speaks to NTD in an online interview on May 14, 2021. (Screenshot / NTD)

He said one of the highlights is the Amen Chorus which concluded with a top A in the sopranos.

‘It really can not succeed in moving you, and the more you know it, you expect your favorite moments, you know when it’s coming and you feel a kind of glow around you, both artists and audience, as one of the beautiful moments happen. ”

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The performance will include 119 members of the RCS Choir and socialist detailed members: Mary Bevan, Marta Fontanals-Simmons, Benjamin Hulett and Edward Grint.

Cooke said he usually does not face nerves when he acts Messiah, just a sense of opportunity and awe. But things do not always go as planned, he added.

“One year the harpsichord collapsed in the first part and the organist had to take over the harpsichord music, and there was a certain amount of unwanted signal between me and the organ player.”

The concert is performed with organ accompaniment rather than a full orchestra under rules for social distance. Organist Richard Pearce will accompany the award-winning choir on the famous organ of the Royal Albert Hall with its 10,000 pipes.

Speaking about the Messiah of Commerce, Cooke said: ‘Because George II allegedly got up when he heard it, I do not know if we normally get up in the Albert Hall, and that’s another moment you feel part of. something big. ”

The performance of Messiah is part of the 150th anniversary celebration of the Royal Albert Hall.

It has been performed more than 500 times in full at the venue and it is estimated that five million audience members have seen a performance of Messiah in the hall.

Cooke added: ‘It was so disappointing to have to cancel our 144th annual Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall in 2020, and we thought we had lost this year too – because we missed the usual Easter date – so we our friends owe it to us in the hall to continue this year’s performance, albeit a little later than usual. ‘

“We have all missed live performances, and there is no better job than the Messiah of Trade to lift the roof.”

NTD reporter Neil Woodrow contributed to this report.

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