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

How it all began

Messiah from Scratch® was born out of a desire to perform in the Royal Albert Hall. ‘Four mad scientists’, working next door to the RAH at Imperial College, and adopting the name ‘the Tuesday Partnership’, agreed to stump up the cost between them, and the basic format of the event was decided in a flurry of activity in the spring of 1974.

The first Messiah from Scratch®, with amateur players invited to form the orchestra, was mainly advertised by handing out leaflets outside the Albert Hall throughout the 1974 Proms season; somehow the response grew from a trickle to a flood as the idea spread by word of mouth and BBC Television took up the story. The conductor on that first night, Gavin Park, stood up in the blaze of television lights to face the unknown, with the media poised to report a catastrophe. It never came – the outcome was a triumph for all concerned, and Messiah from Scratch® was repeated in 1975 and every year since, filling every available seat at the Royal Albert Hall year after year (see our events listings to find out if there are any seats left for this year’s performance). There is no rehearsal for the chorus, just a hugely exciting, adrenaline-filled performance which thrills singers and audience alike.

Sir David Willcocks (1919–2015) took over the musical helm in 1979 and remained our principal conductor until 2010; he was succeeded by Brian Kay. We now run much more than just Messiah from Scratch®, with four concerts a year at the Royal Albert Hall including the award-winning Scratch® Youth Messiah. Performances are now supported by a professional orchestra, with young professional soloists chosen by audition.  The parent company, Scratch Concerts Ltd (usually known as Concerts from Scratch), also runs choral holidays abroad, choral cruises and a highly regarded annual summer school; it is family run by people who are themselves singers. Click here to meet our admin team.