Virtual 'Hallelujah' Chorus Goes Viral, Keeps 144-Year-Old Tradition Alive

Michael Foust | Contributor | Tuesday, April 14, 2020
Virtual 'Hallelujah' Chorus Goes Viral, Keeps 144-Year-Old Tradition Alive

Virtual 'Hallelujah' Chorus Goes Viral, Keeps 144-Year-Old Tradition Alive

Since 1876, London’s Royal Choral Society has performed the Hallelujah chorus each Good Friday at the local Royal Albert Hall – a tradition that was broken only twice during World War II due to Nazi Germany’s bombing of the city.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, the society kept the tradition alive during this year’s COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 82 members of the chorus filmed themselves singing their portion of the song in their homes. The videos then were stitched together in a YouTube video that premiered Good Friday on the Royal Albert Hall website.

The YouTube video has received more than 250,000 views.

Conductor Richard Cooke conducted the virtual chorus from his garden, while organist Richard Pearce provided accompaniment. The Hallelujah chorus is the most popular song in Handel’s Messiah.

“We are all saddened not to be performing Handel’s Messiah in person this year, and we’re particularly sorry that our audience members have been denied their annual performance of this magnificent work,” said Richard Cooke, music director at the Royal Choral Society. “... But we’re proud to be able to present this special video, which we hope goes some way to preserving this tradition.

“It’s not perfect – but then Royal Choral members were singing alone at home, rather than within the comfort of a 120-strong choir accompanied by the RPO [Royal Philharmonic Orchestra]! In these strange times, when we are missing our rehearsals and concerts together, performing ‘virtually’ has been the next best thing, and we hope that singers around the world will join with us to sing this great piece of choral music on this special day.”

It wasn’t the only virtual performance of the Hallelujah chorus over Easter week. London’s Royal Opera House released a video of a virtual performance featuring more than 90 participants from the opera house’s orchestra and chorus.

In the U.S., the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Symphony and Symphony Chorus released a virtual video performance, as did the Columbus (Ohio) Symphony’s orchestra and chorus.


Virtual Choir's Powerful 'It Is Well' Arrangement Goes Viral with 1.4 Million Views

Photo courtesy: Royal Choral Society

Video courtesy: Royal Choral Society

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.