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Art with a Capital F

by Mary Jackson

Once or twice I have gone along to a “Sing-it-yourself Messiah”. The drill is as it sounds: you go to a public building of some kind, usually a Church, but sometimes a theatre or concert hall; you bring your own score of Handel’s Messiah, pick a part and – you’ve guessed it – sing it yourself. Same drill with Sing-along-a-Sound-of-Music by the lake near Kenwood House. You turn up, and you sing. Usually you pay, and the proceeds go to charity. All good fun.  
Now suppose you attended, as I did last Christmas, a performance of Handel’s Messiah at London’s Barbican Hall. Expecting to hear The Sixteen, conducted by its founder Harry Christopher, you find that the stage is empty, there is a photocopied score on your seat, a CD stands in for the orchestra, and you must “sing it yourself”. That wouldn’t be fun at all. And even if it were, would it be art?  more...