Handel’s Messiah

Come and experience a spectacular performance of Handel’s most famous oratorio this Christmas. Enjoy this iconic music whilst admiring four remarkable Burne-Jones stained-glass windows, also depicting the life of Christ.

First performed in Dublin in 1742, Handel’s Messiah has since become a staple of Christmas-time. This year Birmingham Cathedral Choir will bring this choral masterpiece to life, joined by a professional orchestra and soloists, conducted by our Head of Music, David Hardie.

Join us as Handel takes us on a journey of the Christian story, told through this magnificent setting of beautiful choral music.

Handel’s Messiah wouldn’t be so special without a line-up of outstanding soloists. We are proud to have Abigail Kelly, Olivia Thornber, Tim Burton and Timothy Emberson with us for this performance, so please take this opportunity to meet our soloists below!

Abigail Kelly Soprano

Abigail Kelly is an opera singer, vocal coach, workshop leader and director, born and raised in Birmingham. She graduated from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with a first class honours degree, finishing her studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (PGDipOpera).

Abigail’s operatic roles include Mozart The Magic Flute (Pamina) with OperaUpClose, Rossini La gazza ladra (Ninetta) with Midland Opera. For English Touring Opera, Abigail has performed a variety of roles including Mozart The Marriage of Figaro (Susanna), Mozart The Magic Flute, (First Boy), Mozart Così fan tutte (Despina), Strauss Rusalka (Naiad), Britten A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Cobweb).

Abigail performs in and directs operas written for children and SEND audiences. As a workshop leader she regularly facilitates for Welsh National Opera, Birmingham Opera Company, English National Opera, English Touring Opera, Royal Opera House, Streetwise Opera and Turtle Opera. In 2022 Abigail directed the opera How to Find Your Name for ETO and will direct their key stage 2 children’s opera The Wish Gatherer in the Spring of 2023.

Olivia Thornber Alto

Olivia is a mezzo soprano from Loughborough who graduated from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2018. She started her classical vocal training at the age of 15 under the tuition of Caroline Sharpe, before studying with Louise Crane in Birmingham.

Olivia thoroughly enjoys singing in a variety of choirs and ensembles. She has been a part of the conservatoire’s esteemed Chamber Choir working with Jeffrey Skidmore and Paul Spicer, and has also been part of the Leamington Music Prize-winning ensemble Amici Cantantes, and The Wessex Consort under tenor Andrew King. She has also sang with the Convivium Singers for the Tolosa Choral Contest in Spain in 2018, and for their CD recording of Sacred Choral Music by Hugh Benham in 2020 (in which she also sang as a soloist).

As a soloist, Olivia has sung in a variety of styles and different genres, from baroque to musical theatre and more contemporary styles. She has performed with the conservatoire’s percussion department as a vocalist for their performances of Steve Reich’s ‘Drumming’ and ‘Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ’. Olivia’s operatic roles include La Chatte in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, Hänsel in a concert performance of Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel for Flat White Opera, Polly Peachum in Britten’s The Beggar’s Opera, and Clara in Offenbach’s La Vie Parisienne. Scenes include Suzanne from Charpentier’s Louise, Sesto from Handel’s Giulio Cesare, and Mistress Quickly from Verdi’s Falstaff. Her most recent projects have been with Infinite Opera, where she originated the roles of the Old Woman in BESSE, and Alexis the Scanner in Autohoodening: The Rise of Captain Swing (a collaboration project with Post Workers Theatre).

Tim Burton Tenor

Tim Burton first started singing as a Chorister at Gloucester Cathedral, where he sang under the direction of Adrian Partington. He has been a Choral Scholar at Truro, a Lay Clerk at St Philip’s Cathedral Birmingham, and is currently a Lay Clerk at his home Cathedral in Gloucester.

Tim is in his third year at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, where he studies Vocal and Operatic Performance under the tutelage of Lyric Tenor Christopher Turner. Tim regularly sings with Ex Cathedra on a professional basis under Jeffrey Skidmore, having previously sung with them as a Scholar. Tim was part of the prestigious Genesis Sixteen young artists training scheme in 2020/21 under the direction of Harry Christophers and Eamonn Dougan. He has also, most recently, sung with The Sixteen in their An Old Belief Choral Pilgrimage.

Tim maintains regular freelancing work as a tenor soloist with many choral societies and choirs. His solo performances include Mozart Requiem, Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle, Bach St Luke Passion, Handel Messiah, Dvorák Mass in D, Bach Mass in G minor, RVW Five Mystical Songs and Serenade to Music, and Ramirez Missa Criolla.

Whilst at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Tim regularly takes part in opera productions. His first major role was that of Mr Bobo in Mark Antony Turnage’s Coraline under the direction of Daisy Evans and Paul Wingfield. He has also performed in various opera scene productions at college under the direction of Rebecca Meltzer, Tony Kraus, and Jamie Hayes. These scenes include Tim as Vasek from Smetana The Bartered Bride, Jaquino from Beethoven Fidelio, Polidoro from Mozart La Finta Semplice, Lysander from Britten A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Max from Weber Der Freischütz.

His next opera role is that of The Schoolmaster in Janacek’s Cunning Little Vixen with the RBC in March 2023.

Timothy Emberson Bass

Having begun his singing career as a chorister at Lichfield Cathedral School, Timothy is now based in Birmingham, where he completed his BMus in Vocal Performance at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

He completed a choral scholarship singing with the inaugural Voces8 Scholars’ Ensemble, working alongside VOCES8, Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Players, a relationship which led to Timothy appearing on VOCES8’s disc with Decca Classics, Winter, as well as continuing to appear alongside them in concert. Timothy has also sung with choirs such as Ex Cathedra, Armonico Consort and most notably London Voices, with whom he has sung on video game music and film scores.

Timothy has performed in many impressive venues including De Montfort Hall, Birmingham Town Hall, Symphony Hall Birmingham, Bridgewater Hall and Abbey Road Studios. Timothy’s recent solo engagements include Duruflé Requiem, Handel Messiah, Handel Dixit Dominus and Haydn ‘Maria Theresa’ Mass.

Tickets can be purchased via Eventbrite in advance or on the door.

£15 for general admission and £13 for concessions.

Date: Saturday 10 December

Time: 1900 – 2130

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