In commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the death of George Frederic Handel, and the 800th anniversary of the University of Cambridge, the first ever live cinema broadcast of a choral concert took place from King’s College, Cambridge in Easter 2009.
The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge performed Handel’s best known work, Messiah, on Palm Sunday, April 5, 2009 in the magnificent setting of King’s College Chapel. The performance was conducted by Stephen Cleobury, Director of Music at King’s, and featured the Academy of Ancient Music and soloists Ailish Tynan, Alice Coote, Allan Clayton and Matthew Rose. It was part of the Easter at King’s festival of music and services, now in its fifth year.
This was the first time a choral concert has been carried live via satellite. It will be shown in over 85 cinemas across Europe with US broadcasts, also on April 5, confirmed for around 50 screens to date and Canadian broadcasts scheduled in over 30 cinemas for April 11. EMI Classics made the live concert recording available digitally on April 14, the actual anniversary of Handel’s death, and will release the physical CD later in the month.
This event, distributed by Arts Alliance Media in association with DigiScreenand Opus Arte, was be screened by major cinema chains in the UK, including:City Screen’s Picturehouse Cinemas, Empire Cinemas, Curzon Cinemasas well as independents, such as the Everyman Belsize Park, and Screen on the Green, as well as Dukes in Lancaster. Four cinemas in Austria screened the live concert, Six in Denmark, 12 in Germany, Seven in Holland and 29 in Spain.
Through an exclusive agreement with Opus Arte, EMI also released the film of the concert on DVD in November 2009, in the run-up to Christmas, while additional cinema broadcasts are planned in the UK, other European countries, the United States (a 3D version will be shown as well) and Australia during the same period.