MARCO Bellasi is a prizewinning conductor whose goal as musical director of Furness Bach Choir is to preserve its tradition of excellence in performing great works from the choral repertoire, while suggesting new approaches to music and choral sound.

Since he picked up the FBC baton in 2017, he's done a terrific job and on Saturday, November 30 (7.30pm), takes to the podium once again as the well- respected choristers perform Handel's oratorio Solomon at Ulverston Parish Church.

Solomon is a truly amazing work and consists of three acts, plus an overture.

Written in the years immediately following the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, Solomon is Handel’s oratorio that praises above all the beauties of a unified society at a time when the British nation was still healing from profound divisions.

Marco is passionate about the work and is bringing his own orchestra, the Michael Haydn Orchestra, to play alongside a line-up of highly regarded young soloists to share the stage with Naomi Marczak, John Brice and Cathy Styles from the choir.

Daniella Sicari takes the role of the Queen of Sheba with Ralph Thomas Williams as Solomon.

"Solomon is widely regarded as the king that brought the most wealthy, prosperous and peaceful period in the history of Israel," explains Marco. "He's remembered also for being the king that built the holy temple to contain the Ark of the Covenant; this temple is regarded as one of the greatest achievements of humanity."

It is thought that Solomon had up to 700 wives and concubines during his life. Mild references of Solomon as great lover can be found in act one of the oratorio when Solomon introduces his wife, the queen, and sings a love duet with her.

Act two is based around the well known story of two women arguing over who is the mother of the newborn baby, and Solomon's sharp thinking to find a solution and act three is an account of how such a charming statesman Solomon could be when he welcomes the Queen of Sheba (who is believed to be from Ethiopia) on a diplomatic visit to Israel. Solomon has prepared for the visiting queen a spectacular entertainment with music sung and played for her in which he takes an active part.

"The famous eight-part chorus in act three Praise the Lord that we have decided to move to the very end of the oratorio is perhaps the most potent example of Handel’s supreme talent for depicting the majestic and the sublime," adds Marco. "It almost seems to be a musical embodiment of the sacred temple of Solomon and the beauty and the power it represents. It is also a great example of how Handel masters to perfection the technique of the double choir and the art of rhetoric through the use of repetition in music. When we perform or listen to this chorus in particular we cannot fail to feel that we are all part of something bigger than we are, something that brings us ultimately all together and unifies us all."

The following weekend, on Sunday, December 8, Furness Bach Choir repeats the performance in the magnificent surroundings of Manchester Cathedral.

The Ulverston concert starts at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from Sutton's Bookshop at Ulverston or by telephone on 01229-837680.