on February 5, 2013
A visit to watch a performance of Handel's Messiah every year at the beginning of December has become another of our festive traditions. It, for us, really marks the start of the Christmas season and is a special thing to do each year. Although this choral masterpiece was originally designed to be performed at Easter time, for me, Christmas is the perfect time to see it.The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester is the perfect setting to see Messiah. It has a lovely atmosphere, is very convenient to get to and the accoustics inside are perfect.The Bridgewater Hall is one of Manchester's main concert venues. They have a lot of classical music performances, it is home to the Halle Orchestra and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, but they do offer a programme that covers most types and genres of music. Every year, at the beginning of their Christmas season, there is a performance of Messiah.The building itself is very striking and worth exploring. It was opened in 1993, prior to that, the home of the Halle Orchestra had been the historic Free Trade Hall (now, I think, a hotel). Apparently the accoustics there were not very good, hence the need to build a new concert hall.It looks like a giant modern sculpture from the outside with lots of glass and crazy angles. The structure of the building is interesting - it floats free of the ground on giant springs. There is no rigid connection between the building and its foundations. This means the accoustics are perfect. The whole building, due to this feature, is entirely protected from all vibration and outside noise.There is a nice bar area in the foyer, we also noticed a small area where people were dining. They seemed to offer dining packages, the food looked very good. We had drinks in the interval, the only slight criticism I would make, is that there were nowhere near enough seats in the foyer/bar area.Inside the concert hall, there is a lovely atmosphere - it is large, but manages to feel warm and intimate. The seating is great - no matter where you sit, there is lots of legroom and everyone seems to get an uninterrupted view of the orchestra and the stage.Sometimes, Messiah is performed in period costume by candlelight. This is really special and truly a wonderful experience. This year's performance was not in period costume, but was great nonetheless. The orchestra and the soloists, not to mention the marvellous Halle choir, were all first class. Definitely to be recommended and we will be back!
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