Handel - Messiah - Voces8 - The Gresham Centre

The Gresham Centre at the church of St Anne & St Agnes (near the old city wall of London) was the venue for Voces8's performance of Handel's 'Messiah' on Monday the 5th of December 2016.

According to the Gresham Centre's website, there has been a church on this site since 1137 - though it has been rebuilt several times due to fire (including the 1666 Great Fire of London) and the Blitz of the Second World War. The current building was designed by the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren who was, of course, the architect of the nearby St. Paul's Cathedral.

"The church we see today follows the form of Wren’s post Great Fire design for a Greek Cross, a square within a square and boasts a superb acoustic."

The venue was sold out and Handel’s ‘Messiah’ sounded magnificent in this intimate, reverberant and atmospherically-lit venue. Artistic Director, Barnaby Smith conducted Voces8 and the baroque orchestra: The Senesino Players. He had thoughtfully selected some movements to cut from this performance - these omissions did not at all detract from the genius of Handel’s ‘Messiah’.

There were stunning solo arias from all of the core members of Voces8 - including a beautiful rendition of the famous aria ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’, sung by Andrea Haines (soprano). Other highlights came during ‘But who may abide the day of His coming’ sung by Emily Dickens (soprano) and I enjoyed listening to the the aria ‘He shall feed his flock like a shepherd’ shared between Chris Wardle (countertenor) and Andrea Haines (soprano).

It was, as ever, a great pleasure to play the aria ‘The trumpet shall sound’. Rob Clark (baritone) sang from the pulpit while I played the natural trumpet from beside the Gresham Centre’s Christmas tree at the back of the orchestra. The piece sounded wonderful in this acoustic and The Senesino Players were on top form.

After the concert the musicians and audience members raised a glass together during a very pleasant post-concert reception.

Russell Gilmour
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writing on music, photography, engraving, travel and life as a freelance professional musician.