University Choir raise voices and cash for good causes

Sold out concert of Handel’s Messiah

Sold out concert of Handel’s Messiah

The University of Portsmouth Choir, together with the choirs of St Mary’s Church and Portsmouth Cathedral and the Solent Symphony Orchestra, raised £4500 for local charities with a sell-out concert last month. The money will be shared between the St Mary’s Music Foundation, the Portsmouth Cultural Trust and the Roberts Centre.

The concert recreated a version of Handel’s Messiah that was given in Portsmouth in 1812. Dr George Burrows, Principal Lecturer for Performing Arts at the University of Portsmouth, discovered a programme to the 1812 performance of Messiah in Portsmouth’s public library. Annotations in the programme enabled the reconstruction of the ‘Pompey’ Messiah.

Rebecca Silverman, who sang the role of Catalani

Rebecca Silverman, who sang the role of Catalani

The performance explored how the great diva, Angelica Catalani (1780-1849), adjusted Messiah in 1812. At that time audiences were divided about the music that Catalani added to Messiah, her vocal ornamentations and her insistence on singing the tenor solos that usually open Handel’s famous work. A survey of the audience at last month’s concert will reveal whether the actions of Rebecca Silverman, who sang the role of Catalani, brought smiles or frowns to the Portsmouth audience with her astonishing vocals.

Handel’s Messiah has been performed for charity since the 1750s and Dr Burrows said: “I am absolutely delighted that all the hard work paid off with a great performance of the ‘Pompey’ Messiah that also generated much needed income for three local charities. It was great to raise some money as well as our voices in this Portsmouth version of Handel’s masterpiece.”

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