Messyah - a re-written version of Handel's Messiah by Paul Ayres


reviews and comments

"Messyah may have smashed one of the most popular icons of the Christmas season, but it is hard to accuse Ayres of malice. He picked up all the pieces and reassembled them, always lovingly, often imaginatively, and occasionally hysterically comically... when Ayres cuts loose with his few pop settings with jazz combo accompaniment, the joyousness of the result is as true to the religious spirit as was the original setting."
[Stephen Smoliar, San Francisco Examiner, reviewing the 2009 performance by Sanford Dole Ensemble at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music]

"After a brief moment of kidology that all was roughly as normal, 'I know that my Redeemer liveth' went gospel, crooned convincingly by tenor Tom Raskin with ravishing choral support. A show-stopper."
[Andrew Green, reviewing the 2006 London performance of Messyah, in Early Music Today, June/July 2006]

"...the highlight was the finale, a dazzling version of Handel's I know that my Redeemer liveth. This started conventionally enough and the words remained unchanged. But the music, with the original tune elaborated, edited and enlarged, and tempos accelerated or slowed, ended up as an exhilarating hybrid. It was an amalgam of cantata, beat, hot gospel etc that left both performers and audience breathless."
[Iain Gilmour, reviewing a performance by Rosemary Forbes-Butler at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, on, August 2003]

"It's a work of sheer genius. Can't express enough admiration for it. It's tremendous to have musicians as visionary as you at work in this country."
[Kevin Bowyer, University of Glasgow]

"This is amazing, wonderful, completing surprising, drunk with cleverness, and brilliant. I love the way you take no prisoners."
[Rick Bjella, Appleton, WI, USA]

"It is wonderful - poised between heaven and Hoffnung! Sometimes batty and sometimes very moving... It's disconcertingly hard to know where you're coming from sometimes (maybe you are not always sure either) which is quite unsettling: one either likes that feeling or not..."
[John Hawkins, London]

"My brother talked about it for months afterwards, saying it was one of the best performances of his life. Another group of friends went home after the concert and stayed up late talking about it! It's light, it's deep, it's funny, it's serious, it's thought-provoking, it's vexing, it has magic!"
[2009 choir member]

Messyah homepage
list of individual movements (including online recordings)
CD recording
catalogue (sheet music)
Paul Ayres homepage

[information updated August 2015]