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Today is Good Friday and on this day each year, members of the Royal Choral Society and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra are back stage at the Royal Albert Hall, preparing to perform Handel’s Messiah.

The Royal Choral Society was formed for the opening of the Royal Albert Hall in 1871 and sang its inaugural concert in that place on 8 May 1872. Of all the choir’s traditions that have evolved over the years since then, its annual Good Friday performance of Messiah is perhaps the best known.

This year was to have been the choir’s 144th Good Friday presentation of this powerful, spiritual work. Because COVID-10, however, it has had to be cancelled for what is only the third time in the choir’s history – the previous two cancellations were due to bombing raids during World War Two.

Instead, thanks to the coronavirus-prompted Royal Albert Home online series, the choir and orchestra will give a ‘virtual’ performance. From 14.30hrs BST, you can join them either by singing along or just listening to a recording of their concert and at 16.45hrs, they encourage you to head to the RAH website, where you can watch a video of the choir singing the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus, which the expert technicians at the Hall will knit together to make for broadcast today.

I hope you will mark this special day with them.

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