Handel’s “Messiah” is one of those works that Directors of Music often aim to perform once every five years or so, in order to give every pupil an opportunity to sing it at least once during their time at school.

It is a cornerstone of the choral repertoire, a seminal work, and one of enduring popularity – despite being composed during a period of just 23 days over 275 years ago, it is still the most celebrated and beloved choral work in the world by a long way. The oratorio takes Jesus Christ, the “Messiah”, as its subject matter, and the whole text is taken straight from the Bible, telling the story of Christ’s coming to earth, his birth, suffering, death and resurrection – powerful stuff indeed!

On Sunday evening, the School Choir teamed up with Cranleigh Choral Society and the Merriman Concert Orchestra to give a dramatic performance of the piece in the Speech Hall to a packed audience, who were obviously thrilled to be able to mark the start of their Christmas preparations in this way. Mr Pashley conducted the performance with passion and conviction, his sprightly tempi ensuring that the drama flowed continuously from movement to movement, and the choirs responded with singing of great clarity and energy.

Two of the four soloists have close Cranleigh connections, with Hilary Cronin (OC) as soprano and Timothy Dickinson, one of the school’s singing teachers, as bass. They were joined by Hanna-Lisa Kirchin (alto) and William Wallace (tenor). It was a strong line up of young singers, and each performed with great beauty of tone and sensitivity to the text.

All in all, it was a splendid evening, showing Cranleigh Music at its best.