King’s Lynn Festival Chorus to perform Handel’s Messiah

Dame Emma Kirkby
Dame Emma Kirkby
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Rehearsals are going well for King’s Lynn Festival Chorus’ performance of Handel’s Messiah which will be held on Saturday, December 17, at 7.30pm in St. Nicholas’ Chapel, Lynn. This concert marks the start of a season celebrating the Festival Chorus’ 40 years, now one of the best mixed main-stream amateur choirs in the country.

Making a return visit to sing with the Festival Chorus is soprano Dame Emma Kirkby, the world-acclaimed performer of Renaissance and Baroque music; joining her are other extremely fine award-winning soloists Martha McLorinan (alto), Peter Davoren (tenor) and David Shipley (bass).

Accompanying the Chorus is the internationally-renowned Meridian Sinfonia, who perform on authentic period instruments. So what’s the difference? On the stringed instruments, the main difference to modern instruments is that the strings are not metal but natural ‘catgut’ which produce a warmer sound.

The sharp-eyed will also notice that the trumpets are valve-less, unlike modern trumpets; similarly, the keen-eared will find the pitch a little lower than what the modern orchestra is tuned to.

This performance will be under the baton of Tom Appleton, music director of the Chorus. Tom had a long association with the acclaimed professional Monteverdi Choir as singer, soloist and rehearsal conductor, the experience he now shares with the Chorus.

What can one expect to hear in the Festival Chorus’ rendition of this iconic pillar of choral works? As Handel was born in the same year as J.S. Bach, stylistically many of the themes in the choruses are rhythmically driven, yet shaped as if played on stringed instruments. A much lighter Baroque ‘feel’ is achieved yet still achieving dramatic impact in performance.

A spokesman for the Chorus said: “We are performing Messiah in its entirety without any cuts to movements; a work that charts and reflects on Christ’s Birth, Passion, Resurrection and the Redemption of Man. This puts into context, for example, the much-loved and familiar Hallelujah chorus.

“Handel was also a very successful opera composer before he composed Messiah so there are elements of a good opera plot such as story-telling, drama, angst, and finally triumphant proclamation.

“It is going to be really special evening and we’re getting very excited at the prospect of singing with such august guest performers.”

Tickets priced £25 (under 18s £12.50) are available from Lynn Corn Exchange box office 01553 764864; seating is zoned in the Chapel and it is strongly recommended that booking early will secure the zone of your choice.

For further information, visit the Festival Chorus’ website www.kingslynnfestivalchorus.co.uk