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Page last updated at 11:09 GMT, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 12:09 UK
Leicestershire singing Hallelujah
BBC Leicester presenter John Florance
By John Florance
Presenter, BBC Leicester

A portrait of George Frideric Handel
This year marks the 250th anniversary of George Frideric Handel's death

"Sing Hallelujah" is a nationwide BBC project encouraging folk to discover the joy of singing through Handel's famous "Hallelujah" chorus from "Messiah".

The idea is to involve as many people as possible from individual beginners to experienced choirs.

It forms part of the celebrations surrounding the 250th anniversary year of Handel's death.

Handel's "Messiah" is the most popular choral work among British choirs.

Handel's famous chorus will be performed in November or December 2009, whether informally or as part of a bigger concert.

If you are a singing beginner there are two free Sing Hallelujah events on 5 and 6 December 2009 to get you started, in London and Glasgow.

If you are an experienced singer or in a choir already, you can perform the Hallelujah Chorus in November or December 2009, whether informally or as part of a bigger concert.

Full details here: Sing Hallelujah

Handel and Leicestershire

Handel and his "Messiah" have at least two significant connections with Leicestershire.

Sunday 27 September 2009 marked exactly 250 years to the day since St Peter's in Church Langton witnessed the first ever performance of "Messiah" in an English Parish Church.

The Revd William Hanbury, the parish priest, was, not to put too fine a point on it, a Handel fanatic.

His presentation of "Messiah" at Church Langton was not a great success financially though it certainly stirred a great deal of publicity. It marked the moment when Handel's great music began to be heard outside the big metropolitan centres.

Hanbury's performance began the process by which "Messiah" has become the "People's Oratorio".

He held further Handel festivals at the church, dying in 1777 at the age of 52.

The Words of Messiah

The other link between the oratorio and Leicestershire involves the land-owner and patron of the arts Charles Jennens (1700 -1773).

It was he who assembled the texts for five of Handel's works, including "Messiah".

Jennens lived in some splendour at Gopsall Hall near Twycross. ("Gopsall" is the name of a hymn tune by Handel used for "Rejoice the Lord is King")

Sadly the Hall was demolished in 1951.

Jennens was an important friend of the composer and a fascinating figure in his own right. He deserves to be better known.

Meanwhile, as we celebrate "Messiah" locally and nationally let us remember the local connections with this great work!




SEE ALSO
Singing Hallelujah with Rupal
20 Nov 09 |  Religion & Ethics
Presenter profile: John Florance
14 Sep 09 |  TV & Radio

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