September 6, 2013
Simon Russell Beale, described by the Independent as ‘the greatest stage actor of our time’, joined an orchestra of baroque instruments, the Elysian Singers, and soloists Sophie Bevan, Christopher Lowrey and Neal Davies in a one off performance of ‘Divine Music for Trumpets and Voices – the life of George Frideric Handel’ last night at Mansion House in the City of London.
The Georgian residence of the Lord Mayor of London provided a truly fitting background, playing host to 400 guests who were transported back in time as Beale, a proclaimed Handel aficionado, morphed into character in full Georgian dress and German accent to play the role with ‘sensitivity, panache, humour and understanding.’
The programme, written by Benedict Hoffnung and David Blackadder, celebrates the life of Handel in a recital of some of his greatest works, with humorous autobiographical dialogue. Having previously been played by Harry Enfield and Alex Jennings, Beale stepped up to the role of Handel, in aid of the Lord Mayor’s Appeal 2013. Simon Russell Beale has strong links to the Square Mile having attended St Paul’s Cathedral School and been a chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral. His later education saw a return to the City, graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1983.
The Lord Mayor, Roger Gifford, reminded guests of Handel’s own philanthropic efforts, with his annual performances of the great Messiah raising funds to support the Foundling Hospital and the children it brought up, giving them a trade and a start in life. The Lord Mayor’s own philanthropic efforts this year seek to support young musicians as they launch their professional careers, establishing the City Music Foundation as a vehicle to offer financial support, performance opportunities and marketing. Other beneficiaries include the Harold Samuel Collection Fund, the Gifford Wood Appeal and Futures for Kids.
For photos of the evening click here