World-record performance to be broadcast online for the first time in RMP’s history!
The 37th Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Concert
“The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra delivered another vibrant and polished reading. Music director Andrew Wailes conducted with precision and infectious energy urging the chamber-sized orchestra and 100-strong choir to some stirring renditions of the big choir pieces including the famous Hallelujah, Glory to God and For unto us a Child is born. Wailes favoring brisk tempos made for exciting listening…” – The Age
Royal Melbourne Philharmonic presents Handel’s iconic Messiah for the 241st time, in an unbroken annual sequence of performances in Melbourne since Christmas Eve, 1853 which is today recognized as a world-record. Despite two world wars, various pandemics, the great depression, fires, floods, and several financial crises, this very special Melbourne tradition has continued, due to the spirit and passion of many generations of RMP musicians. This year, with the Covid-19 pandemic closing down theatres, cathedrals, and concert halls around the world, the RMP has been planning how to continue this tradition, whilst still being able to conform with public safety regulations and social distancing restrictions.
As a result, for the first time in its venerable history, the RMP will this year stream a specially filmed version of Handel’s great masterpiece, and present it for online viewing in time for Christmas. The world’s most-loved oratorio, famous for its sparkling and deeply-moving arias, and brilliant choruses (including the magnificent Hallelujah! Chorus), Handel’s Messiah has been performed in all sorts of venues – from great concert halls to intimate chapels, all across the globe. Indeed it was the Hall of the Mechanic’s Institution on Collins St in colonial Melbourne where the RMP first performed the piece. Each performance has its own charm, and this year will be no exception, with a unique filmed presentation tailored for at-home viewing, and filmed in one of Melbourne’s most beautiful and historic churches.
Featuring a baroque-scaled chamber ensemble of RMPO players, and talented choristers from the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir, this year’s performance will feature four outstanding soloists, and be directed by RMP Chief Conductor Andrew Wailes – widely regarded as one of Australia’s foremost exponents of this great work.
Welsh-born soprano Amelia Jones will make her debut as a soloist with the RMP at this concert, having recently been named winner of the Conductor’s Encouragement Award at the 2020 RMP Aria Competition. Much-loved Australian mezzo-soprano Sally-Anne Russell returns to a familiar role, and will be joined at this concert by the internationally-acclaimed Eglish tenor Christopher Watson, a former lay clerk at Durham Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and Westminster Cathedral in London, and longstanding member of The Tallis Scholars and Theatre of Voices, with whom he won a Grammy Award in 2010. Rounding out this outstanding cast will be the 2020 Winner of the RMP Aria, and one of Australia’s leading oratorio soloists, the Sydney-based bass-baritone Andrew O’Connor.
For more than 170 years, The RMP’s annual performance of this masterpiece has been a much-anticipated highlight of Melbourne’s concert calendar.
Whilst this year’s online performance will look and sound a little different to the now-familiar Melbourne Town Hall experience, it will offer viewers a new look at this great work of supreme musical virtuosity, and spiritual power. Conductor Andrew Wailes promises “a few lovely surprises this year”, and a “memorable Messiah performed in the magnificent setting of one of Australia’s most beautiful churches” which, he adds “will, in itself add a certain visual beauty and spiritual profundity to this year’s rendition”.
Don’t miss being part of this wonderful musical tradition.
“Wailes made sure that the pace did not slacken… Wailes, who cuts a dapper, self-possessed figure on the podium, showed an impressive compulsion, driving his forces along with insistent power. It is hard to recall when this oratorio has been treated with such attention given to its dramatic potential; no singer – soloist or chorister – was given latitude to generate that fruity and orotund timbre familiar from performances of 20 years ago.”
– Clive O’Connell (The Age)
Andrew Wailes conductor
Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir
Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra
Amelia Jones soprano
Sally-Anne Russell mezzo soprano
Christopher Watson tenor
Andrew O’Connor baritone
Stefan Cassomenos harpsichord
Calvin Bowman, organ
Christopher Grace, trumpet
AN ONLINE PRESENTATION.
BOOKINGS (FROM 16 DEC): www.rmp.org.au
Approximate running time 2 hours 10 mins. Multiple streaming options available for viewing.