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Award-winning Carnival Messiah – celebrating a fusion of cultures

Carnival Messiah 2017 1 - Photograph by Diane HowseIf you’ve not yet read or heard about Carnival Messiah, Geraldine Connor’s epic masterpiece, which Harewood House staged in 2007 and the Earl of Harewood co-produced, then now is the time. Ashley Karrell’s film and documentary, which features 17 years of content from the show, just won People’s Choice Award for Best Documentary at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival

A radical reimagining of Handel’s Messiah, the original production fused music, dance, and carnival into a spectacular live performance event. It brought together over 150 local Leeds community performers, together with celebrated international artists, all on one stage with a backdrop of Harewood. The production marked the climax of a year of events at Harewood in 2007 to commemorate the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

At the time, artistic director and creator Geraldine said; “It should be acknowledged that Harewood is the only stately home in the UK to be completely transparent about its involvement in the slave trade…we stand firm together in commemorating and celebrating our shared heritage.”

David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood, was the show’s executive producer: “We wanted to acknowledge Harewood’s history but at the same time to celebrate the present. I don’t know of any more exuberant, more spectacular, more inclusive expression of contemporary Caribbean culture than Carnival Messiah.”

Carnival Messiah The Film & Documentary, created and directed by Leeds based film-maker, Ashley Karrell features a large cast, loud music, impressive carnival costumes – and also features interviews and behind-the-scenes footage from the original production and the cast and creatives involved. The film premiered at Leeds Playhouse in September 2017 and has subsequently been screened at Leeds International Film Festival.

Geraldine passed away in 2011 and the Geraldine Connor Foundation, supported by the Lascelles family, was established. It is a way of ensuring that Geraldine’s ‘unique spirit and phenomenal impact’ are remembered and her legacy of bringing people together through arts and culture is continued. Harewood House is very proud of its association with this great production and its continuing commitment to education and working with local communities.

Watch the trailer from the film here.

To read more about the foundation of Harewood House, read here.