BBC Northern Ireland has ordered a two part series Singing The Messiah from Belfast prodco DoubleBand Films.
The docuseries follows composer and musician Neil Martin as he creates a community choir on the Ards Peninsula for a Christmas performance of Handel’s Messiah, sung for the first time in the Ulster-Scots dialect.
In September, Martin embarked on the challenge with the help of local choir directors Diane Holt from Newtownards and Claire Buchanan, a music teacher at Bangor Grammar.
Filmed over a six-week period, the series follows the selected choir members as they prepare for their performance at The Portico of Ards, in Portaferry, in front of a local audience.
The choir is made up of 36 people, with an age range of 16 to 80 years old, from towns and villages across the peninsula — some native Ulster-Scots speakers, others learning the language for the first time.
In the first episode, viewers will see the formation of the choir and the first three rehearsals. Episode two follows the choir through their final rehearsals as they prepare for the Christmas performance.
“This has been a fascinating experience in creating our community choir. All of its members took on the challenge of singing Handel’s beautiful music in Ulster-Scots for the very first time and did so with such passion and enthusiasm. The final performance was a very memorable evening for everyone,” director Jonathan Golden said in a statement.
Singing the Messiah airs on BBC2 Northern Ireland Dec. 15 at 9 p.m.
(Photo: BBC Northern Ireland/Twitter)