Opera Scotland

Messiah 1958Dundee Choral Union

Read more about the opera Messiah

This Messiah, during the Dundee Choral Union's centenary season, attracted an audience of 1500 to the Caird Hall.  Since the AGM on 1 September 1958, the word Amateur had been dropped from the Society's title. This concert contained an interesting feature that may be interpreted as an early element in the move towards authenticity of performance practice.

An experiment took place which was seen as quite risky in the vast spaces of the Caird Hall - the use of a harpsichord. This was a Kirkman two-manual instrument from 1770, and loaned by the Hon. James Bruce, Balmanno Castle, Bridge of Earn. The Harpsichordist was a Dundee music teacher, Mrs Elaine Ramsden, and the body of strings from the Dundee Orchestral Society, led by Jessie Wilkie, was reduced to allow the instrument to project still more.

As the Courier put it on 30 December: ''probably the largest hall in which a harpsichord has ever been played. Sometimes it was 'lost' in the vastness and against the orchestral sound. But it grew on one, filling in the 'middle' parts of the near-original score used in an undeniably effective way.''

Soprano Patricia Clark is the only one who performed regularly with Scottish Opera after its foundation in 1962. Norma Procter was a big name among the choral societies and a specialist in oratorio and concert work, as was Roger Stalman. Wilfred Brown died young, but had a beautifully sensitive tenor, ideal for the baroque repertoire and for English song.

Performance DatesMessiah 1958

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Caird Hall | Dundee

29 Dec, 19.30

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