Worthing Choral Society tackle Handel's Messiah

Worthing Choral Society's Christmas concert this year will be a performance of Handel's inspiring oratorio, Messiah.

Aedan Kerney
Aedan Kerney

The concert is on December 1 in Worthing’s Assembly Hall, starting at 7.30pm. Tickets are £12 for all seats (concessions available) from Worthing Theatres box office, telephone 01903 206206, or via their website: http://www.worthingtheatres.co.uk.

Musical director Aedan Kerney, now in his tenth year leading Worthing Choral Society, said: “Handel’s first love was Italian opera which he successfully brought to London in 1712. However when interest in Italian opera declined in favour of lighter subjects sung in English, he began to write oratorios, following a similar format and structure to the operas, designed to be sung dramatically but without staging. These oratorios included Biblical themes such as Esther and Saul and were warmly received by audiences.

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“In 1741 his librettist, Charles Jennens, sent him an outline for a new oratorio, saying in a letter to a friend that his hope was that ‘this composition would excell all his former compositions, as the subject excells every other subject. The subject is Messiah.’ The work was first performed in Dublin on April 13 1742, with a London premiere a year later. Despite its amazing premiere, its reception in London was modest at first, but it gradually gained popularity and today is Handel’s best known and most loved work.

“This oratorio is an extended reflection on Jesus as the Messiah, with the text being taken from the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. Part 1 begins with prophecies about the Messiah found in Isaiah and other prophetic scriptures, and goes on to look at his birth as described in the Gospels. Part 2 focuses on his passion, ending with the Hallelujah chorus, which is probably the most-loved piece in the work. Part 3 describes the resurrection of the dead and Christ’s glorification in heaven.”

Worthing Choral Society welcomes the Sinfonia of Arun, leader Robin Morrish, and their quartet of soloists: soprano Sarah Corp, counter-tenor Jake Barlow, tenor Mark Bradbury and bass Bob Davies..

Aedan added: “Messiah is indeed a Heineken composition, one which reaches the parts other music is unable to reach. The purity of the soprano soloist’s And suddenly there was with the angel, the power of the Hallelujah Chorus, the dancing energy of He is the King of Glory and the soaring architecture of the final Amen Chorus are just some of the moments which make my spine tingle. What a lovely way to begin Worthing’s Christmas!”

Jake is delighted to be joining the event: “For me, the biggest challenge of the Messiah is that it is so well known. With such famous pieces of music, the challenge is to keep it fresh, engaging, and exciting both for the choir during rehearsals, and for the audience on concert night. But therein lies the joy of a piece like the Messiah – every time you sing or listen to it, there is something new to be found, and even after countless listenings and plenty of performances, the Messiah still genuinely excites me. It is a gift that keeps on giving.”

Jake added: “My involvement with Worthing Choral Society came about as the result of a happy accident. As a relative newcomer to Sussex (I moved here just over a year ago), I wanted to reach out to let the choral society know that I was available for work as a concert soloist and singing teacher. The choir just happened to have been thinking of engaging a new conductor, so I met with MD Aedan Kerney and chairman Barry Bates and the rest, as they say, is history. I am involved with the choir on a regular basis – I attend weekly rehearsals where I help to rehearse and train the choir for the projects in which they are involved. I also work on the choir’s vocal technique.”