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The Hallelujah Chorus

An exploration of the emotional impact of The Hallelujah chorus from Handel's 1742 oratorio, Messiah. From February 2012.

Stirring, emotional and unmistakable: The Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah is the subject of this week's Soul Music.

The Alzheimer's Society runs a group called 'Singing for the Brain'. It's for people with dementia or Alzheimers and their carers who come together to sing in a group. As music is tied so closely to emotional memories, often lyrics and music remain firmly fixed in the brain, even though other memories have died away.

Julia Burton of the Alzheimer's Society recalls the power of the Hallelujah Chorus, as performed at a special event by Singing for the Brain groups in Wiltshire and Dorset.

Mrs Vera Fiton, whose late husband - Ted - had dementia talks about how important the weekly singing group was for both of them. Taking Ted from his care home to 'do the Hallelujah' was a weekly highlight, he enjoyed it so much, Vera recalls, that he'd still be singing in the taxi on the way home.

Carol Pemberton, of the Birmingham-based a capella quintet 'Black Voices', took part in the reopening concert of Birmingham Town Hall in 2007. The programme director suggested they sing The Messiah, but not as Handel intended, rather a daring interpretation arranged by Quincy Jones, called the 'Soulful Messiah'. It's a soul/gospel version which has to be heard to be believed! Carol describes performing it as one of the biggest highs of her career to date.

Jennifer Blakeley runs Alphabet Photography, a photo company based in Niagara Falls in Canada. She came up with the idea of staging a Flash Mob to promote her company. The Hallelujah Chorus had long been a favourite piece, and she - along with her local choir - set up a flash-mob in a local shopping mall. The result was emotional, extraordinary... and achieved so much more than the intended aim to boost her business. Passers by , not linked with the choir, joined in... others cried, emotions ran high. And the resulting You Tube video has now attracted over 37 million hits.

Paul Spicer, composer, conductor and organist, describes the historical backdrop to Handel's exhilarating composition.

Producer: Karen Gregor.

Available now

30 minutes

Last on

Sat 18 Feb 2017 00:30


  • Tue 28 Feb 2012 11:30
  • Sat 3 Mar 2012 15:30
  • Fri 17 Feb 2017 18:30
  • Sat 18 Feb 2017 00:30

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