‘In Handel’s Day’ greeted with sun and large crowds

Photo by Meghan Dixon

The sun was shining on 13 April as the large crowd of spectators enjoyed an outdoor performance of Handel’s Messiah. To honour the 268th anniversary of the premiere performance in Dublin, Temple Bar Trust organised a day of free events focusing on Handel and his most famous composition.

Our Lady’s Choral Society performed main excerpts from Handel’s Messiah at 1pm on the original grounds of Neal’s Music Hall on Fishamble St., where it premiered in 1742.

Crowd members were invited to join in during the encore of the Hallelujah chorus and raise their hands each time they sang “hallelujah”, encouraging more laughter than singing from audience members.

Lorraine Maye, a member of the Temple Bar Trust, organized the events for the day. She said that the large crowd was a combined result of the beautiful weather and the fact that more people each year hear about the event. She first started organizing events for the day back in Autumn, and was happy that so many people attended the event.

“We recreate the event because it was a large civic event and people feel connected to the music, and that it premiered in Dublin,” Maye said.

Prior to the performance, historian Pat Liddy led a walking tour to some of the sites that Handel frequented during his stay in Dublin, such as St. Michan’s church where Handel practiced the organ.

Liddy also agreed that the premiere of Handel’s Messiah was an important cultural event in Dublin’s history.

“It was one of the best things to happen to music, to happen to culture, and to happen to Dublin culture in particularly,” Liddy said.

This year marked the 19th year that Our Lady’s Choral Society has performed the piece; they first performed it 1991 to honour the 250th anniversary. The choir has 32 members and serves as the choir for St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Marie Fitzpatrick has been singing as a soprano in Our Lady’s Choral Society since 1996. This was her eighth year singing in the chorus for the Handel’s Day festivities.

“Every time I sing the Hallelujah chorus I get a shiver down my spine, I absolutely love it,” Fitzpatrick said. “I enjoyed it thoroughly, I hope everybody did. I think it’s a tremendous way to celebrate Handel’s music and I wish a lot more people from Dublin would come and enjoy it.”

Fitzpatrick has a special connection to Handel, as she went back to study his music for her Ph.D.

“I had been singing it every year, I was so fascinated by Handel and decided to do more investigating,” Fitzpatrick said.

Other events held during the day included a performance of music from the Neals collection at St. Audoen’s Church, a movie in Meeting House Square and workshops dedicated to the music and dance styles of Handel’s time period.

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