by Karine Hetherington
Originally an Easter offering, Handel’s Messiah was first performed in Dublin’s Musick Hall, Fishamble Street, on April 13th 1742. By all accounts it was an incredible event. Handel was famous by then and there was a rush to get seats. In order to create more room, women in the 700-strong audience, were asked to come “without hoops”.
The Messiah remains popular to this day and it is easy to see why. Handel’s oratorio is such an uplifting, sublime, immersive work. One which is guaranteed to put you in the mood for celebrating Christmas.
I met up with Miles Lallemant, KOFMA’s musical director, and Laura Lamph, mezzo soprano and KOFMA curator, to discuss our upcoming production of the Messiah.
Miles – tell us a bit about the music.
I have handpicked a small orchestra. I’m playing harpsichord and will be accompanied by two cellos, a bass, four violins, a viola, double bass, trumpets and drum. This musical ensemble would have been this size in Handel’s day, which makes our production of the Messiah all the more authentic and exciting.
It’s a formidable work. The score is 259 pages long and contains a quarter of million notes! Handel is supposed to have composed his Messiah in six weeks. True or false?
Very fast work, isn’t it.
He did have a bit of divine input. Soli Deo Gloria (‘To God Alone the Gloria’) he wrote on his manuscript…
It’s all supposed to be a myth. Apparently the original manuscript was a bit of a mess – lots of scribbles and corrections – so it didn’t come to him that easily, not like Bach whose manuscripts were perfect and did look like they had come down from God.
Your musicians – are they Royal College of Music students?
No. They are all professionals – the lead violinist and cellist are two of the best around. We needed the best and also musicians and singers who had performed the work numerous times.
How many singers have your chosen for the Messiah?
Laura: Ten professional singers (including myself) doing solo and choral parts. We are all sharing the solo parts because everyone is really good and needs to be heard. One of the basses is also the trumpeter.
Miles: Back in Handel’s day, that would have been normal.
Laura: Yes, and I would have chosen him as a baritone even if he hadn’t played trumpet!
Come along to see our talented professionals perform this magnificent work on Saturday 1st December in Pilar Hall, Olympia. Concert starts at 6.30pm and will end at 9.30pm (with interval).