London’s Royal Albert Hall. This inspirational building gave rise to an inspirational idea.

How it all began

The Really Big Chorus/Concerts from Scratch is the brainchild of Don Monro. Having come over from Canada in 1966 with his wife Ann, he was seduced by the musical life in London and stayed, finding himself in 1970 living with his family less than 200 yards from the Royal Albert Hall.

Messiah from Scratch was born simply out of the desire to perform in that celebrated building. ‘Four mad scientists’ calling themselves the Tuesday Partnership agreed to stump up the cost between them, and the basic format of Messiah from Scratch was decided in a flurry of activity in the spring of 1974.

The first Messiah, for which amateur players were invited to come and form the orchestra, was mainly advertised by handing out leaflets on the pavements outside the Albert Hall throughout the 1974 Proms season, and somehow the response grew from a trickle to a flood as the idea spread by word of mouth. When BBC Television took up the story as a news item, the flood became a torrent. An enormous debt of gratitude is owed to the conductor on that first night, Gavin Park, who stood up in the blaze of television lights to face the unknown, with the predatory media licking their lips for the expected catastrophe. It never came—the outcome was a triumph for all concerned, and Messiah from Scratch was repeated in 1975. In 1976 the Tuesday Partnership put on its first May event which was called ‘More from Scratch’, with extracts from Mozart’s Requiem and Haydn’s Creation.

40 years later, TRBC is still going strong, sadly without its founder: Don Monro died in 2014 before witnessing any of the celebrations for the 40th anniversary in 2014. Click to meet the people who currently run Concerts from Scratch.