Handel’s Messiah – Blackburn Cathedral

December 3, 2017 — 48 Comments

Blackburn Solo

Yesterday, Saturday the 2nd December 2017 I traveled North to Blackburn, Lancashire, where I was to sing the soprano solos in the Blackburn Music Societies performance of Handel’s Messiah.  This was the first time that I had been back to Blackburn since winning the audience prize in the Kathleen Ferrier Bursary Competition in October 2013 and it was lovely to see Sylvia Alexander again, who was one of the organisers and Trustees of the competition, this time as a member of the choir.

Blackburn Cathedral

Blackburn Cathedral

As I arrived the choir, under the baton of Tom Newall, were in full voice rehearsing for the evening’s performance. I settled myself down and waiting to have my first run through with the Lancashire Chamber Orchestra.  I knew Matthew Mannion, baritone soloist, having performed opposite him in Opera Britain’s Don Giovanni and it was great to catch up with him.

I met the other two soloists Helen Anne Gregory, mezzo-soprano, and Alexander Grainger, tenor, and together we sang through most of our solos and got used to the acoustics in the beautiful cathedral. It was a fabulous venue holding over four hundred people and the choir was expecting a full house.

File 03-12-2017, 18 11 39

With the rehearsals over, we had time for a quick bite to eat before changing and preparing for the evening performance.  As the time arrived we could hear the bustle of the audience as we walked up the stairs from the crypt, I felt a sudden rush of excitement, this was to be my first Messiah as a soloist and then I couldn’t help smiling as we walked across the cathedral just in front of the main altar.  The cathedral was full and I could see hundreds of smiling faces looking back at us as we took our seats and the orchestra tuned their instruments ready to begin.

View Of The Altar

View Of The Altar

You could not help but feel the emotion of the music as the choir sang in beautiful harmony accompanied so aptly by the instrumentalists of the Lancashire Chamber Orchestra. Suddenly I heard my cue and I stood to sing my first solo, all of my emotion channeled into that moment, I felt so alive.  It was a wonderful experience and one that I shall not forget for some time.  Like most things in life we like to remember and savour the first time we do anything of significance and this was such a moment for me.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening, the choir made us feel so welcome and singing alongside such wonderful performers is a such a privilege and one that I hope will continue for many years to come. I will take away from this some fantastic memories and was thrilled to share them with my amazing fellow soloists Matthew, Helen, and Alexander.  Lastly a huge thank you to Tom Newall for his constant encouragement and support, and for making the evening so special for all of us.

Soloists and Tom

Matthew Mannion, Alexander Grainger, Tom Newall, Helen Anne Gregory, and Me

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Next week I move on to Kingston Upon Thames for the Winter concert of the Thames Philharmonic Choir. For anyone that is going to be in the area next Saturday, 9th December there are still a few tickets left which can be purchased on the door or through the choir’s website  www.thamesphilchoir.org.uk This is a great way to kick-start your Christmas spirit.

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To finish off tonight can I just let you all know about a fundraising initiative from the Royal College Of Music, which allows for matched funding of any contributions made through The Big Give: Christmas Challenge 2017

It only runs through to 12:00 pm 5th December and every pound raised to make a huge difference to so many talented music students supported by scholarships here at the Royal College of Music.

The Big Give 2017

48 responses to Handel’s Messiah – Blackburn Cathedral

  1. 

    How exciting. Reminds me of my performing days. I imagine the audience was as enchanted as you were! ❤

    • 

      I’ve had some lovely feedback in person and by e-mail one lady told me about the chatter in the queue for the loos during the interval hehe. I was pleased that Tom, Alexander and Helen were very experienced in this work and they gave great support and advice.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  2. 

    How wonderful, Charlotte! Were your parents or brothers able to come hear you with the choir?

    • 

      My parents dropped me off at rehearsals at 1430 ready for 3pm, they went shopping in Blackburn and for something to eat then came to watch the performance at 7pm. Matt couldn’t make it he was out in the USA and Tom is busy on a dissertation for his degree at the University of Glasgow, it’s his final year now.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  3. 

    What a thrill, Charlotte. Thank you so much for the terrific narrative. I got butterflies when your cue came up.

  4. 

    A gorgeous scenario. A dream! This is surely the time of year for beautiful concerts. My best to you Charlotte and warm wishes for beautiful holidays.

  5. 

    Dear Charlotte,
    It is amazing how beautiful you look and I am sure your singing of Handel’s Messiah was wonderful as well. We a certain in the spirit to celebrate the first Advent of our Lord and Savior coming into this world to save sinners from their sin. May God bless you richly my beloved.

    • 

      It was a very emotional experience, I’m working hard at the moment to practice in the Baroque style in readiness for the performance in Manchester on the 16th December.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  6. 

    Wow, you didn’t get much rehearsing. Sounds like you enjoyed every moment. Thanks for sharing with us and taking us along with you! x

    • 

      Most of my rehearsals were with piano accompaniment in London and over several years training in oratorio class. As a soloist for these big works, you are expected to know your section of the work so that the conductor can concentrate on directing the whole choir and orchestra. It was quite an adrenaline rush for me, my first big performance of this work to a large audience.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  7. 

    Wonderful Charlotte, it sounded like you really enjoyed the evening. Hopefully people will donate, especially since donations are doubled until Tuesday. On to the next great experience.

    • 

      The Royal College of Music were very happy to have reached their Christmas Challenge target of just over £100,000 for 2017 thanks to everyone’s generosity in this year’s big give, some of my friends and family were really happy their donation got doubled.

      Yes, this weekend’s Winter Concert in Kingston upon Thames with the Thames Philarmonic Choir is a big sing. I’ve met the choirmaster a couple of times and the choir have a blog https://www.thamesphilchoir.org.uk/blog. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  8. 

    What a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. 

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful experience! I wish I could’ve attended.

    • 

      I wish you could have attended Nanette I think you would find it quite uplifting. I understand most performances also allow the audience to join in with the Hallelujah chorus even if you just want to hum along.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  10. 

    What a thrill to be able to be a soloist in the Messiah! I am pleased it all went so well and you enjoyed the experience. Blackburn Cathedral is so beautiful!

    • 

      I don’t believe there was a choir in the Town I grew up in and I feel the town misses out of this experience. I just love the way a Cathedral comes alive when full of people and music.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  11. 

    How wonderful for you to have all these incredible experiences and performances. You look happy and radiant. I pray that you receive many donations to help out the college! Hugs & Love xx

    • 

      Yes, a new set of firsts this Christmas Janice, three oratorio solo performances and the two Messiah performances are at different baroque pitches so I’ve had lots of practice to do over the last few months and next week.

      Thank you for your prayers also Janice, the College exceeded their target this year and raised just over £100,000 for the RCM Scholarship Fund to help to transform the lives of gifted musicians over the many years of training required.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  12. 

    Such a wonderful description. I’m sure the performance was awesome.

  13. 

    What a lovely gown you are wearing. Great to hear it went so well.

  14. 

    Such a thrill – you made me nostalgic for a wonderful lead up to a wintry Christmas.

  15. 

    Powerful ! thanks a lot Charlotte, very nice share ! really, with all the work you have, taking time to share with us …. how can I say….. THANKS YOU SO MUCH !! You’re a treasure my friend !!! MERCI, all the very best for You !

    • 

      Merci Beaucoup Pascal. I’m like a busy Christmas elf at the moment, I thought I might take ten days off this Christmas but that looks like three to four days now but at least for those days I won’t have to do anything at all, well until Matt gets the board games out he he.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  16. 

    What a wonderful smile 🙂

  17. 

    Wow Charlotte,
    What a wonderful time you had, you looked beautiful.
    Lovely photo’s, can’t wait for the 16 th in Manchester.xx

  18. 

    Best of luck with the Winter concert of the Thames Philharmonic Choir.

  19. 

    Congrats on your first performance of Messiah as soloist, Charlotte. I’m sure the unforgettable experience was augmented too by the magnificent architecture of the cathedral where, from your photos, the old was fused with the new. As well, Handel’s glorious lyrics must have also enhanced the experience. All the best in your upcoming concerts!

    • 

      Thanks for your lovely message Arti, it is in my scrapbook now, my first oratorio solo. Plenty of choir performances but it’s quite something to experience. Looking forward to tomorrow.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    • 

      I pin curled it with fixing spray, when I arrived for rehearsal I got a few odd looks like ‘I hope she’s not leaving it like that 😄’ , but it saves trying to get it ready just before the performance. Thank you.
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

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