The 700 year old Cathedral is a particularly appropriate venue for concerts of the Handel Festival because young George Frideric Handel himself played the organ there when he was organist for a year from 1702/1703. He was employed by the Protestant congregation of Calvinist/Zwinglian orientation, the so called German Reformed Church.
Signs of the many and varied uses of the building can still be seen today. The Cathedral was built as an Abbey Church by the Dominicans, who built their churches without towers. The arches typify the early gothic style. After that it became the Chapter Church of Cardinal Albrecht who intended it as bastion against the rising popularity of Protestantism at the time of the Reformation. At this period the round-arched gables, the carved figures on the pillars, the pulpit and other features were added. During an earlier restoration the 17th Century baroque features were rather neglected. These were added at the time that the Cathedral was the Court Church of Duke August of Sachsen-Weißenfels (the same family who were the employers of Händel's father). It is hoped that these features will receive some attention in future restoration work. Not only did Hofkapellmeister Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654) perform his famous Cantiones Sacrae here, but it is recorded that it has been in use over the last hundred years for the performance of sacred music. During the last 50 years when the Handel Festival took place in Halle two men, Friedrich Wilhelm Schönherr and Reinhard Ohse ensured that a religious service took place here.
The last major performance before reunification was a performance of Händel's Messiah by the Cathedral Choir of Utrecht in 1985 and by the College of Church Music of Halle (now called the Evangelical High School for Church Music) in 1988.