Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Christmas Tradition

OK, now it feels like Christmas. This afternoon I played a rehearsal of Handel's Messiah and tonight is the performance. For me, nothing says Christmas more than this famous work.

I played my first Messiah my freshman year in college and continued to play it every year after that for a total of about 35 years, I think, until recently when the chain was broken. I have played both first and second violin, in large orchestras and small groups no bigger than a string quartet with a few winds. The choruses have ranged from the professional to the amateur church choir. The venues have ranged from concert halls, to churches, of course, and hospitals. I've toured northern Spain with it. I've played strict, light and crisp, Baroque-style versions and heavy, but glorious, Romantic versions. No matter, the spirit of the music always comes through. My cousin recently heard her first performance of this masterpiece and was not impressed. She said she found it boring and repetitive. What can I say? I love it. I love Handel. I love his simple melodies. The Hallelujah Chorus brings tears to my eyes every time. But I'll tell you it's a whole lot more fun playing it or singing it than just listening to it.

A couple of years ago, I attended the Messiah Sing-a-long with the Los Angeles Master Chorale at Disney Hall so now I can even say I have sung the Messiah in Disney Hall no less. My son-in-law, who has a great bass voice, sat next to me and someone who knew what she was doing sang soprano in front of me. I am an alto with a very limited range. It was great fun but harder than I expected.

Sorry, I have to run. Gotta change into my concert black and get back to the church.

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