LONDON, December 04, 2014 -- /EPR NETWORK/ -- One of London's leading art galleries will branch out into the world of music this weekend, when it celebrates the arrival of Christmas by staging Handel's Messiah in two evening performances. The National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Choir will be giving their first ever public concerts at the Gallery after opening hours when they perform Handel's Bible-inspired oratorio and Christmas concert favourite in the Victorian galleries on the evenings of Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 December. The National Portrait Gallery is one of London's most popular galleries, located just off Trafalgar Square in the West End. For more about the gallery and other events and exhibitions in the area, see LondonTown, where you can also find the most up-to-date listing and booking information on London hotels, restaurants, shops and bars.
With its popular Amen and Hallelujah choruses and dramatic retelling of the life of Christ, Messiah will be performed close to the Gallery's famous portrait of the composer sitting with his copy of the work. The Portrait Choir are part of the first Choir in Residence programme at any museum or gallery in Britain. They will be joined by the Royal College of Music Baroque Orchestra and members of acclaimed ensemble Florilegium. The setting of the Victorian Galleries, surrounded by paintings of grand nineteenth-century figures, adds to the sense of occasion. During the day, visitors will be able to hear members of the Royal College of Music perform free chamber music recitals of works by Handel directly underneath the composer's portrait. The Portrait Choir is in residence at the National Portrait Gallery at least five times a year and performs a wide repertoire of choral works in gallery spaces which relate to portrait themes,
The Handel portrait, which was painted for Handel's friend Charles Jennens, was in 1968 the first painting to be acquired by the Gallery by public appeal. A gala performance of the oratorio to raise funds for the portrait was given at the Royal Albert Hall with Dame Joan Sutherland as soprano soloist. It was by Thomas Hudson (oil on canvas, 1756) and shows the great composer in old age and by now blind, with the score of Messiah in front of him open on a table. For more information about this and other events in London this Christmas, see LondonTown.com.
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