Downloads help Britain sing 'Hallelujah'

BBC and ENO offer teach-yourself downloads for a nationwide Handel singalong

Launched at this year’s Proms, and inspired by Handel’s 250th anniversary celebrations on Radio 3, a campaign to get the nation learning and singing the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus from Handel’s Messiah is gathering strength. People of all musical abilities can now learn the voice parts of the piece, with downloadable material available from www.bbc.co.uk/sing

The downloads are being made available in the run-up to a special ‘Sing Hallelujah’ weekend, with two special events scheduled in London and Glasgow, on 5-6 December. Here, members of the public will be able to perform the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus – with the help of the English National Opera (ENO) under the guidance of former Choir of the Year winner Sue Hollingsworth – which will be broadcast on Radio 3.

The site features special performances by the BBC Singers and BBC Concert Orchestra, with tuition tips from celebrity singers, such as Gareth Malone (pictured left) of BBC TV’s The Choir and Suzy Digby of Last Choir Standing. The tutorials allow listeners to listen to the orchestral part on its own, or with each individual vocal part with an orchestra backing. Singers are then encouraged to get together in communities and schools and load their results back on to the site.

For those wishing to see a performance, the site’s locater map will help find the nearest local choral society that is performing the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus over the next couple of months. The campaign also ties in with a new production of Handel’s Messiah by ENO, directed by Deborah Warner, which will be broadcast on Christmas Day on Radio 3.

‘Earlier this year, as part of Composers of the Year, over 100 choirs participated in the Radio 3 weekend marking 200 years since Mendelssohn’s birth’, says Radio 3 controller Roger Wright. ‘We now look forward to “Sing Hallelujah”, as the climax to our festivities celebrating Handel in his anniversary year.’

To download material and to get free tickets for the ‘Sing Hallelujah’ events at London’s Coliseum on 5 December, and Glasgow City Halls on 6 December, go to www.bbc.co.uk/sing. The closing date for ticket requests is today.