From Fishamble Hall to Silverlake Stadium

Handel’s Messiah and Charity Performances

George Frederick Handel 1685-1759

The first performance of Messiah took place in Dublin on 13th April 1742, to great acclaim. The Great Music Hall in Fishamble Street was filled with the most distinguished and an invited audience—indeed to make more room the ladies were requested not to wear hooped dresses, and gentleman to attend without swords—we have no such restrictions, except to ask you to wear some purple to show our unity for Voices for Hospices Choir. Indeed we have a most distinguished audience including HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Mr Nigel Atkinson, and Mrs Atkinson. Also attending will be the Revd Marion Dodd, plus Lawrie McMenemy and local County Councillors and VIP’s, our soloists and orchestra; and of course, you our singers, the most important part of the proceedings. It will be difficult to fill Eastleigh Football Club to capacity, but we have tried!

The advanced publicity for the first performance stated that the proceeds were intended for three specific charities, today we have five, Countess Mountbatten Naomi House and Jacksplace, Oakhaven, Rowans and St Michael’s Hospices. All in Hampshire.

In London, Handel’s enthusiasm for supporting various charities moved to that of the Foundling Hospital, and in 1750 Messiah was performed again to great acclaim. After this Handel gave a benefit performance of the work every year ‘til his death, raising some £7000 in ten years, a significant sum in 18th century terms. (He left a fine set of vocal and orchestral parts, which can be seen at the Foundling Museum). Our last VfHChoir concert at Kempton Park Racecourse raised £25000 for our hospices, we are hoping for a similar amount today.

Subsequent performances of Messiah have been closely linked with charity donations, and it is for this reason that we have chosen this oratorio for today’s Voices for Hospices Choir concert.

Part 1 tells of the coming of the Messiah, as foretold by the prophets, and the birth of Christ.

Part 2 describes Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection and ascension into Heaven, including the rousing Hallelujah Chorus—performed to fortunate shoppers by some of today’s singers at Haskins Garden Centre last week. After Hallelujah there follows contemplative solos and choruses from onlookers (hopefully 1000+ of them!) ending with the mighty Amen Chorus.

It is with very grateful thanks to Stewart Donald and Eastleigh Football Club that we have today’s amazing venue. Unusual venues for our concerts have been in order since a few years ago, when we were again singing to advertise our concert (at Tesco’s Winnall) when after a chorus a member of the public shouted out “This is where music should be, in the market place and not the concert hall!”