A HUDDERSFIELD choir is set to feature in a TV programme celebrating Handel’s Messiah.
Huddersfield Choral Society is renowned for itsperformances of the famous oratorio.
The talents of the 200-strong choir caught the eye of producers of The South Bank Show, who asked them to appear on the programme being screened on Easter Sunday.
Melvyn Bragg explores the enduring appeal of Messiah by following the preparations of three Yorkshire choirs for performances to mark the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death.
The film – which also features Keighley Vocal Union and The Sacred Wing, from Leeds – captures the choirs’ traditions and personal stories and shows the significance today that the instantly recognisable work carries.
Huddersfield Choral Society’s Jim Cowell said the group was delighted to be asked to appear on the show.
He said: “We were approached by a producer at The South Bank Show who told us they were making a programme about Messiah.
“They then came and recorded a few rehearsals, interviewed some members and recorded one of the concerts that we gave in the Town Hall last December.
“It was great to take part in the programme and we’re looking forward to seeing how it has been put together.
“Our society is well-known for singing Messiah, it’s become a local tradition and people come from all over to hear our unique Huddersfield sound.
Handel was best known for his Italian operas, but sensing a change in London’s musical tastes composed an oratorio based on English texts taken from The Bible, which he completed in three weeks in 1741.
By the 19th century, amateur choral societies across Britain were performing it – the tradition becoming particularly strong in Yorkshire.
Huddersfield Choral Society has been performing its version of Messiah to sell-out audiences since at least 1859.
Each year it stages the masterpiece twice at Huddersfield Town Hall before Christmas.
In the past, locals used to queue around the block for tickets, but now they are issued through a ballot.
Mr Cowell said: “It’s still just as popular with audiences and people come from all over to hear our performances.”
The choir also regularly broadcasts for BBC radio and television and has a long history of pioneering recordings.
The South Bank Show: A Yorkshire Messiah is on ITV1 at 10.40pm on Easter Sunday.