Westminster Abbey’s performance of Messiah
Wednesday, 15th April 2009
Westminster Abbey’s performance of Messiah by G.F. Handel on Tuesday 14th April 2009 was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and in a number of European countries.
The performance, which was conducted by the Abbey’s Organist and Master of Choristers James O’Donnell, took place on the day of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death and in the place where he is buried.
The Abbey Choir was joined by period-instrument orchestra St. James's Baroque and soloists Ailish Tynan, Sarah Connolly, Paul Agnew and Jonathan Lemalu.
Handel has a special association with Westminster Abbey. The German-born composer made London his home for over 40 years and composed his celebrated Coronation Anthems for the coronation of George II in 1727. Zadok the Priest, the most famous of the four anthems, has been sung at every coronation since.
Handel is buried in Poets' Corner in the south transept of the Abbey, where an imposing monument bears a life-size statue of the composer by the sculptor Louis-François Roubiliac. Unveiled in 1762, it is thought to be an exact likeness as the face was modelled from a death mask. Directly in front of him is the score of I know that my Redeemer liveth from Messiah.