Handel's Messiah to be heard in Doric for first time

One of the world's best known pieces of classical music is set to be heard in Doric for the first time, at a special performance taking place in Aberdeen this weekend.

In a unique musical collaboration, renowned composer Paul Mealor has teamed up with Aberdeenshire author and translator Gordon Hay to perform Handel’s ‘Messiah’ in North-East Scots.

The concert, produced by the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, will be performed at St Machar Cathedral on Saturday (March 10).  It will feature performances from top soloists, with opening remarks by Robert Lovie who will read words of welcome, translated into Doric, from HRH The Duchess of Rothesay, University Chancellor.

Prior to the performance there will be a day of workshops at the University’s MacRobert Building in which anyone can come and sing, and join in the evening performance if they wish.

Tom McKean, Director of the Elphinstone Institute, said the idea came during a conversation with Professor Mealor, who is Chair in Composition at the University.

“We were thinking of ways to bring Doric into worlds where it’s not usually used. There are some wonderful translations of the Bible into Scots, so why not extend that to classical music? Paul had the fantastic idea of doing ‘Messiah’. 

“Gordon Hay had recently published the Doric Bible, so we thought this would be a natural next step in helping to redefine people’s expectations of what our language can do. I think it opens up a whole new world.

“Gordon translated it in a couple of days, and we were delighted to receive support from HRH The Duchess of Rothesay.”

Dr McKean added: “Messiah has been interpreted in so many different ways – Mozart’s version, Handel’s own reworkings, and any number of translations – so this is a great opportunity to connect this wonderful music with the rich culture of North-East Scotland.  We want to show the world that our very expressive language can do anything.”

*For more information on the concert and workshops, including booking information, click here