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Handel's Messiah - An English Christmas Tradition

Where to See a Performance of Handel's Messiah in the Holiday Season

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Updated December 4. 2012

Performances of Handel's Messiah during the Christmas season, are annual events around the UK. English choirs fill Cathedrals and concert halls with the well known work and, even when Handel's Messiah is not performed in its entirety, the well known first part - which includes the Hallelujah chorus, is sung.

If you are going to be in England in December, several outstanding annual productions are worth marking your calendar for.

(NOTE: These links and dates are for 2012. 2013 Dates will be published in the appropriate holiday season.

St.Paul's - A Historic Link to The Messiah

When the Choir of St. Paul's Cathedral in London sing Handel's Messiah, they are linked to a tradition of nearly 250 years. The Choir of St. Paul's joined the Choir of Westminster Abbey and the Choir of the Chapel Royal to sing the work at Handel's own funeral - at the Abbey - in 1759. The concert, on Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m.(2012), features the Cathedral Choir and Chorus and the City of London Sinfonia. It is ticketed but free, by post from the Chapter House,London EC4M 8AD, on a first come first served basis.

Handel's Messiah at the Albert Hall

  • The Messiah from Scratch is one of choral music's great participation events. It's usually on the last Sunday in November or the first in December so it's a good idea to check the Albert Hall website for the event. Tickets from the Albert Hall Box Office.
  • Later in December, the Royal Philharmonic joins the 500 massed voices of three choirs - Goldsmiths Choral Union, English Concert Chorus and Highgate Choral Society - for the annual event. In 2012, that's on December 14,15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets from the Royal Albert Hall box office.

A Candlelight Messiah in Full Period Costume

The London Philharmonic Choir join the Mozart Festival Orchestra to perform Handel's Messiah by candlelight in full 18th century period costume at the Royal Festival Hall on December 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Where to Hear English Choirs and Chorales Sing Handel's Messiah in England

These churches and concert halls usually have annual performances around Christmas, often by candlelight.
  • Bristol Colston Hall hosts the annual performance on December 14 and 15 at 7:30p.m., featuring The Bristol Ensemble and Bristol Cathedral Chamber Choir. Tickets from Colston Hall, +44 (0)117 9223686
  • St. Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St. Edmunds, December 8 at 7.30 pm. Four professional soloists join with St Edmundsbury Cathedral Choir, the St Edmundsbury Singers and the Suffolk Handel Players. Tickets from the Theatre Royal Box Office +44 (0)1284 769505 or online.
  • Chichester Cathedral The Hanover Band performs at 7:30, Dec. 7. Tickets on +44 01243 813595 or the Cathedral website
  • Gloucester Cathedral Gloucester Choral Society Messiah, Dec. 8, 7p.m.. To book, phone +44 (0)1242 691190 or book online.
  • Rochester Cathedral Messiah and Carols for All. The first part of Handel's Messiah and an evening of favorite Christmas music featuring the Rocheter Cathedral Choir and The Rochester Camerata. December 11 at 7:30p.m. Tickets from the Cathedral Office,Office, Garth House, The Precinct, Rochester, ME1 1SX, or phone Kay on +44 (0)1634 810062.
  • St. James's Church, Piccadilly in London. The Messiah sung by the Joyful Company of Singers accompanied by the Georgian Camerata, Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets online.
  • St. Martin-in-the-Fields, in Trafalgar Square, London. Handel actually played the organ at this famous church (so did Mozart), so it wouldn't be the holiday season without a performance of his greatest work. The concert, on December 29 at 7p.m. features the Delphian Singers and Brandenburg Baroque Soloists. Tickets online.
  • Worcester Cathedral Worcester Festival Choral Society and Queens Park Sinfonia, Dec.8, 7:30p.m. Booking information from the choral society website or telephone Worcester Live Box Office , +44 (0)1905 611 427.
  • York Minster, York Musical Society, December 8 at 7:30p.m. Tickets online.

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