Photo credit: Dahlia Katz

One of Tafelmusik’s most cherished traditions is performing Handel’s Messiah: a tradition we’ve been proud to uphold since 1980!

This year we are performing Messiah again for the first time since 2019. And to celebrate, we thought we’d share Tafelmusik’s Messiah by the numbers.


Number of weeks Handel spent composing Messiah: 3

Number of people who attended the Dublin premiere, a benefit concert, in 1742: 700

Amount raised at benefit performances of Messiah directed by Handel for the Foundling Hospital in London between 1749 and 1759: £7,000 (in today’s money, over 1.7 million dollars)

Number of debtors excused in Handel’s lifetime, thanks to benefit performances of Messiah: 142

Most frequently used noun in Messiah libretto: “Lord,” mentioned 26 times

Number of times the word “Messiah” is used in the libretto: 0

Number of times the bass section sings the word “Hallelujah” in the chorus of the same name: 44

Total number of minutes during which the timpanist plays over the course of almost three hours: 4

Number of valves on trumpet played in “The Trumpet Shall Sound”: 0 (baroque trumpets have no valves)

Number of times Tafelmusik has performed Messiah: 173

Number of Messiah performances Ivars Taurins has conducted with Tafelmusik: 171

Total number of Messiah performances Ivars Taurins has conducted, including other orchestras & choirs: over 225

Number of vocal soloists who have performed Messiah with Tafelmusik over the years: 88

Number of venues in which Tafelmusik has performed Messiah: 18

Of the 53 performers on stage at this year’s Messiah, 13 are performing it for the first time with Tafelmusik: 3 orchestra members, 8 choir members, and 2 guest soloists.

The combined number of Messiah performances with Tafelmusik by the other 40 performers is 2,585.

Of the musicians on stage this year, winners in the “most performances” category are:

  • Ivars Taurins at 173 (played viola in the first two, conducted the rest)
  • Orchestra: keyboard player Charlotte Nediger at 163
  • Choir: countertenor Peter Mahon at 153
  • Soloists: Brett Polegato at 30

Our 2022 performances of Handel Messiah sold out—but you can still join us! Watch the filmed concert version with our Digital Series Pass: Messiah premieres on December 20 at 8pm ET, and you can watch and re-watch over the holidays, and anytime on demand through August 31, 2023.

Learn more about early music

Read our blog to learn more about baroque music, composers, instruments, our own orchestra, choir, and much more.