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Preview: Have you got a Handel on ‘The Messiah’?

A top British organist and conductor will return to his Blackpool roots in the New Year when St Paul’s Church in Marton hosts a ‘Sing the Messiah’ event.

Musical director for this performance of Handel’s famous choral work is Michael Cayton, who was brought up in Marton, where his father was vicar of St Paul’s. Michael was the first organ scholar at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, home of the Chelsea Pensioners, and is in demand all over Europe as a recitalist and organist. He is principal conductor for Watford Philharmonic Society and has given many broadcasts for the BBC, including Songs of Praise.

Michael enjoys learning new musical styles, and can often be found performing jazz, fusion and funk – but it is his first love that brings him back to Blackpool.

Come and Sing the Messiah will be held on January 25 and 25, with all money raised being split between the church and research into mitochondrial disease (Mito), a rare illness which affected a relative of one of the organisers, Pauline Wilson.

She said: “Lauren Benney suffered from Mito. She was eight when she died and was deaf and blind and physically disabled but was always smiling and she loved music – an inspiration to all who knew her.  I decided I would like to raise some money for the Mito research and as we had done a similar production five years ago to celebrate the church building centenary and 250 year of St Paul’s dedication I thought it might be a good idea to try and do it again.”

The choir will be made up of local singers, including a chorus who will learn their parts at a workshop on Saturday, January 24 from 2 to 5pm, followed by a full rehearsal for everyone on Sunday, January 25 from 2pm, with the performance at 7pm. Singers pay £5 to participate, while audience tickets are £8.

The soloists are all well known local singers. Jacqui Cookson (also brought up in Blackpool and choir mistress at St Paul’s), Jacqui Veazey, Peter Bowden and David Twizell. The orchestra will be made up mainly of local musicians, with leader Helen Andrews. Violinists and a viola player, and a timps player are all needed – if you can help, call Pauline on 01253 987529 or 07434 922245. These are also the numbers to ring if you want to join the choir.  The closing date is January 16.
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