Arts Arts > BENEFIT PERFORMANCE

16 April 2014 | by John Morrish

BENEFIT PERFORMANCE Premium

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It’s the most frequently performed of all pieces of choral music. But Handel’s Messiah has another notable place in history. According to Messiah at the Foundling Hospital (BBC2, 19 April), the piece formed the centre of the first important benefit concert and helped usher in the modern idea of using the arts to stimulate philanthropy. “We didn’t want to be too heavy-handed, drawing parallels with Bob Geldof and Live Aid,” says Rob Coldstream, who produced and directed the documentary. Nonetheless, he insists, the concert at Thomas Coram’s London orphanage on 1 May 1750 was a pioneering event. “There may have been various charitable performances of artworks before, but we’re not really aware of anything remotely in this kind of league. We th




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