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Sunday, 25 November 2018


At the end of the Messiah in a packed out St Michael's Church in Mill Hill last night, many of the audience rose to their feet to show their appreciation.  It was much deserved for a fabulous performance of one of the most famous of choral works.

When arriving at 7p.m to get a good seat, the front 6 rows were already occupied and by 7.20p.m the Church was full including the choir stalls and area at the rear, with stragglers struggling to find a place to view the concert.  The Messiah is a popular work and in Mill Hill in 2018 we have already seen the local Musical Company sell out a week of Fiddler on the Roof weeks in advance of their run.   Live music is more popular than ever. Exciting times.

The first half of the concert was Part 1.  This dealt with the prophecies in the Old Testament of the coming Messiah and the birth.  Fitting to listen to just before the Advent season.  The evening opened with the excellent Orchestra Nova who played skillfully all evening under conductor Tom Winpenny, and recitative by tenor soloist Gareth Treseder ( ) whose voice rang around the Church.  The London Pro Arte Choir (LPAC) had to wait for their first chorus which is the famous "And the Glory of the Lord" which is always a tough ask with its TopA for the Sopranos but they started with clear diction and wonderful texture, which has become their hallmark under Tom Winpenny's direction.  The bass soloist Lawrence Wallington was a last minute replacement, but you would never have guessed.  His powerful, dramatic bass voice shaking the foundations of St Michael's from his first entrance. The alto soloist Sarah Denbee ( )  and soprano soloist Elenor Bowers- Jolley ( both impressed in the first half with excellent singing.  The first half ended with the audience already very impressed and ready for the famous refreshments. Although it was heard that the Marmalade was missing from the Food Stall this year !

Nothing could have prepared the audience for the second half.  The Second Part of the the Messiah deals with the Passion and death of Christ.  Beautifully sung by soloists and choir.  Culminating in the famous and favourite Hallelujah chorus.  This was the point where the chorus let rip and the vocal fireworks started.   Up until this point the Chorus had been singing beautifully but they then showed that they do have more power and bite as a unit as in this chorus they upped the passion by 100% backed by timpani and trumpets in the orchestra, this was as good a Hallelujah chorus as I have ever heard ( and I have seen the Messiah over 50 times ) and it drew gasps and oohs when it finished from the audience - again I have never heard that before either !

Part Three of the Messiah is about the resurrection and the choir, soloists and orchestra realising that they were now taking part in a very special evening gave their all.   Elenor Bowers excelled with I know My Redeemer liveth and Lawrence Wallington had the audience enthralled with The Trumpet Shall Sound with his dramatic and rich delivery.  The concert finished with the seven minute chorus Worthy is The Lamb - with its counterpoint - and rising Amens at the end.   With St Michaels awash with a beautiful sound many in the audience jumped to their feet with applause and cheers.

The Messiah is such a glorious work.  This performance in an intimate church showed that the piece in the right hands has tremendous power.   With star soloists who delivered every aria superbly, an orchestra who played their hearts out beautifully all evening, and a choir which grew in confidence and panache during the evening and delivered the big choruses in a memorable and exciting way; it was a wonderful night.

LPAC return to St Michaels to raise money for the Noah;s Ark Hospice on Saturday 8 December at 5p.m.  Including a Cecilia McDowell piece and carols for all.  At just £10 hopefully many will turn up to support the Choir and the Hospice.  The next Concert is on Saturday 23 March and is a mixed programme of Mendelssohn, Bruckner and Wesley.  Choral music is in great shape in Mill Hill - and if you sing or want to sing - then why not join the choir - email them for details here

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