A sell-out crowd of over 3,000 from across Ireland gathered in Knock on November 18 for the first ever performance at Knock Shrine of Handel’s iconic Messiah. A recording of the concert will be broadcast on RTÉ Lyric FM at 1.00pm on Christmas Day.
The performance of this world-renowned oratorio marked the return to Knock Shrine of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra following last year’s sell-out Concert for Peace, which saw more than 2,500 people gather in the Basilica, including President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina Higgins.
Among those attending this year’s concert were His Excellency Archbishop Thaddeus Okolo, Papal Nuncio to Ireland; Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam; and Father Richard Gibbons, Parish Priest and Rector of Knock Shrine.
Handel’s Messiah, composed mostly from scriptural texts from the King James Bible, is one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music and is widely-recognised for its Hallelujah Chorus. The first ever performance of the Messiah took place at the Great Music Hall in Dublin’s Fishamble Street in 1742.
The 180 member choir, led by Conductor Proinnsías Ó Duinn, comprised members of Mayo’s award-winning Cór Mhaigh Eo and the Ballina Chamber Choir, as well as Our Lady’s Choral Society from Dublin. These choirs were complimented on the night by international soloists Soprano Claudia Boyle, Tenor Julian Hubbard, Alto Anne Marie Gibbons and Bass Christopher Cull.
Speaking after the performance, Father Richard Gibbons said, ‘This is the culmination of 11 months of careful planning by many people in many areas. I would like to thank not only the Knock Shrine Staff and Volunteers but also the many individuals and local businesses who have contributed to the success of the evening.’
For more information and pictures from the night, please see www.knockshrine.ie.