Friday, October 08, 2010

The Brickhill Messiah

8 October 2010

The area just to the South and East of Milton Keynes is known as the Brickhills. Long before the development of Milton Keynes, these villages boasted a strong choral tradition linked to the local churches. In 2007 a group of local residents, many of whom take part in amateur music groups in Milton Keynes and Northampton, established Music in the Brickhills to present live music in the Brickhill villages in order to raise money for local and national charities. On Saturday we were at St Mary’s Church in Great Brickhill to see the fourth annual Brickhill Messiah. Handel himself developed the idea of charity performances of his oratorio, perhaps the best known of which were his annual fundraisers for the Foundling Hospital. So we felt part of a venerable tradition as we joined an enthusiastic local audience last weekend to raise money for nearby Willen Hospice. I had never been to a full performance of the Messiah before (well there are no parts for French horns!) and it was fascinating to discover such a well known work for the first time. It’s a mammoth undertaking and the Brickhill Messiah was a very impressive achievement. Even with quite a few cuts, the performance lasted more than two and half hours (including an interval). All the soloists were amateurs, drawn from the chorus, and it was lovely to see them taking their opportunities to shine: it would be unfair to single anyone out but there were some really fantastic singers on show. The powerful chorus, including singers from the nearby Danesborough Chorus and Milton Keynes Chorale, created a wonderful sound and the final chorus (“Worthy is the lamb”) was a stunning finale. The band of local musicians was also of a very high standard. The performance was extremely enjoyable, its few rough edges merely reminding you what a challenge the Messiah is and making the many magic moments all the more special.

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