I remember the enormous impact Messiah had on me when I was young. Huddersfield Town Hall, Halle Orchestra, Barbirolli conducting, Heather Harper soprano, John Shirley-Quirk bass-baritone… I have sung in the chorus, filmed it in Westminster Abbey, but until now fought shy of it for the Wimbledon International Music Festival because it is so frequently performed.
When I found James Gilchrist was available this year, rapidly joined by outstanding others, Rowan Pierce, David Allsopp and James Newby, and with the Academy in fine form under conductor Matthew Best I knew the time was ripe.
With ‘I know that My Redeemer Liveth’ playing movingly in my mind it seemed a fitting part of our “Looking Forward - Looking Back” journey this year.
Our spiritual journey begins with Haydn’s astonishing ‘Seven Last Words from the Cross’ in a unique assemblage with Carlo Gesualdo’s extraordinary Responses for Holy Saturday interwoven with Indian Meditations on tabla and sitar.
There is good reason to explore these juxtapositions. Music is a universal language. There are theories, explored in a fascinating BBC documentary several years ago, that Jesus might have journeyed to India, noting the similarity between his ministry and Indian philosophy.
In programming the Festival I try to bring experiences new and fresh. The music is superb and the performers - Brodsky Quartet, Tenebrae Consort, Guardain Rayatt and Roopa Panesar all of the highest order.
Come and celebrate our Tenth Anniversary opening concert at Sacred Heart and complete the journey with Messiah on our closing weekend.