A Charitable History

The first officially recorded children’s charity was the Foundling Hospital in Bloomsbury, set up by Royal Charter in 1739. Within ten years it became one of the best known and favoured charitable institutions in the country, not least because its chapel contained some very fine donated paintings by Hogarth, Reynolds, Gainsborough and others.  People came to see the paintings and were often persuaded to donate.  If Handel was inspired by the astute creative philanthropy of his artist colleagues, we will never know. What is certain is that he recognised the chapel’s potential as a performance venue and in May 1749, he approached the hospital’s governors and offered to conduct a benefit concert, which was a great success.

The following year he returned, this time to perform his great oratorio, ‘Messiah’.  It was a total sell-out and had to be repeated two weeks later.  ‘Messiah’ was already well-known – it had first been performed in Dublin in 1742, that performance too being in aid of charities and the work’s association with charity work throughout the world is now an on-going tradition.  Which is why on November 18th in St. Mary Magdalene in Taunton at 7:30 p.m. this work will be performed again, in aid of the NSPCC.   Amici has sung ‘Messiah’ many times over the years, perhaps the most memorable being in Wells Cathedral on October 2000, supporting the world wide ‘Voices for Hospices’ movement.

What is it about this work which makes it such a sure-fire success?  Its music of course – the piece is full of well-known and memorable tunes, arias and choruses.  ‘And the Glory of the Lord’, ‘For Unto Us a Child is Born’, ‘All We Like Sheep’, ‘I Know that My Redeemer Liveth’, ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound’ and of course ‘Hallellujah!’  Its message – God’s love shown in the birth and sacrifice of His Son.  Audiences will always turn out for ‘Messiah’ and when the piece is linked to such a worthy cause as the NSPCC we are hopeful of a good financial result as well as an artistic one.

As more details become available, we will update this page to keep you informed about this musical treat to come.

Tickets are available NOW, via this website (see home page) and from the Tourist Visitor Centre in Taunton (01823 340470).   £20 gives you the best seating and view from the centre section; the standard seating is £15.  Don’t delay – this is an event not to be missed.

Oh, by the way – that first-ever performance of ‘Messiah’ in 1742 raised £400.  Allowing for inflation that is the 2017 equivalent of £63,600.  That may be a little ambitious on our part, but we hope that with your help, the NSPCC may achieve a result worthy of the work and effort which will be put in by all who will be taking part.