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The Oxford Harmonic Choir

Handel Messiah March 2022 Ox Magazine

The Oxford Harmonic Choir is offering an exciting opportunity in its upcoming concert to hear the UK première of Sir Andrew Davis’s colourfully re-orchestrated version of the perennial favourite that is Handel’s Messiah. The concert will take place at 7.30 on 26 March in Oxford Town Hall.

Sir Andrew describes his veneration for Handel and the ideas behind his version in the
following words: ‘My aim was to keep Handel’s notes, harmonies, and style intact but to make use of all the colours available from the modern symphony orchestra in order to underline the mood and meaning of individual movements. … Everything I have done instrumentally stems from the enormous respect, even awe, which I feel towards this supreme masterpiece. If any of my ideas should help to illuminate any part of it, I shall be happy.’

The performance will be conducted by the choir’s conductor, Robert Secret, who writes:
‘When I was asked, by the choir, to do a performance of Messiah more akin to the way it was
performed one hundred years ago, to celebrate our centenary, the obvious solution was to use the Ebenezer Prout edition orchestrated for full orchestra. However, David Morris, our
Treasurer, told me of the Andrew Davis orchestration. On hearing it, I was won over by the
imagination that was put into this version. It is no mere adding in of extra instruments but a
beautiful recreation of this masterpiece with a full symphony orchestra, even including a
harp, and with sensitive use of percussion instruments in some numbers.’

Oxford Harmonic Choir celebrated its centenary in 2021 and has a distinguished history of performing both well-known and more unusual repertoire.

To find out more about the choir and its history, visit its website at


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