Handel in the wind: Our Lady's Choral Society braves storms to sing street 'Messiah'


WHILE “HE shall reign forever”, the rain stayed away for the annual Handel’s Day celebrations in Dublin yesterday.

There were overcast skies and the wind played havoc with the National Sinfonia’s sheet music. But Our Lady’s Choral Society, with guest soloist Ross Scanlon, took it in their stride as they lifted hundreds of people packed along Fishamble Street with a rousing performance of highlights from Handel’s Messiah.

George Frederick Handel led the first performance of the piece in the now defunct Musick Hall Theatre on almost the same spot on April 13th, 1742. The “Messiah on the Street” has become an annual event since 1992.

Proinnsías Ó Duinn, who has been conducting Messiahsince the 1960s, interspersed the hour-long performance with snippets of biography.

He told the crowd that in his day Handel would have been “as famous as Bono” and had he written the piece today he would be a multimillionaire.

As the choir sang, sections of the crowd joined in and the street was treated to a surround sound of “hallelujahs”.

For the finale, Mr Ó Duinn accused the public of being “too passive” and challenged them to count the number of times the word “hallelujah” was mentioned in the chorus. To make the task simpler he asked both the crowd and the choir to do a “Jane Fonda workout” and raise their hands every time the word was sung.

The first 20 proved easy enough but when sections of the choir broke into harmony the task became more and more difficult as a sea of hands rising and falling added a visual effect to the music.

Yesterday evening Mr Ó Duinn and the choir gave another concert featuring a different piece by the composer – Alexander’s Feast– at the Button Factory on Curved Street in Temple Bar. Other events organised by the Temple Bar Cultural Trust for the day included historian Pat Liddy giving a walking tour of 18th century Dublin and a history of Handel’s time in the city.

Children from Harold’s Cross National School joined the Tullamore Classical String School to perform some of Handel’s other works at Cow’s Lane.