Come hear Handel’s “Messiah”

IT’S TIME AGAIN FOR shameless self-promotion. Well, it isn’t exactly self-promotion: I am part of a much larger group, the National Philharmonic Chorale, and we are presenting Handel’s Messiah on December 16 and 17, 2017.

Together with the National Philharmonic, and four fabulous soloists, we do the whole thing, start to finish. (Well, most of it. There are always a few parts that we leave out.)

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To buy tickets, go here. Kids ages 7-17 are FREE! – but you do need to reserve a seat for them.

How about a little Messiah backgrounder? Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer. It was first performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742 and received its London premiere nearly a year later. After an initially modest public reception, the oratorio gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.

And here’s some good history from Smithsonian Magazine:

Handel’s Messiah was originally an Easter offering. It burst onto the stage of Musick Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742. The audience swelled to a record 700, as ladies had heeded pleas by management to wear dresses “without Hoops” in order to make “Room for more company.”

An Easter offering! From the same article:

“There is so much fine Easter music—Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, most especially—and so little great sacral music written for Christmas,” says Cummings. “But the whole first part of Messiah is about the birth of Christ.”

When I was at Dickinson College, we presented Messiah as a sing-along. (For fun, I just Googled, and found an archive photo from December 1986 that I am probably in! – though I don’t recall posing and can’t find my face.) It was big fun – we filled the recital hall each December with college and community voices and had a blast singing together.

Our performance with the National Philharmonic is not a sing-along – for you. But you can listen and appreciate this amazing work, performed by musicians from the DC-area community, just in time to get yourself into the Christmas spirit.

In case you can’t join us for this performance, here’s the Hallelujah Chorus, performed by the Royal Choral Society.

Send me a message if you need more information!

 

I sing

I AM ALWAYS HAPPIEST functioning behind the scenes, away from the spotlight. Not that I’m hiding; I just don’t much care to be the center of attention.

I have said of my job, you’ll know I’m doing it well when you don’t know I’m doing it. I could say the same about singing. I have sung solos (and not just karaoke), but mine is really not a solo-quality voice. But that doesn’t make me a soloist, any more than having skied a few times makes me a skier.

I am a choral singer. I read music and sing what’s written, adding interpretation according to the director’s guidance. I don’t improvise. I’m at my best when I’m blending with others who are singing the same part, or harmonizing with those singing other parts.

I am an alto. We altos approach our supporting role with the quiet confidence of those who know they are able singers, yet don’t need to sing the melody in order to prove it. (Don’t take offense, sopranos; I mean no disrespect. We can’t sing harmony if you don’t cover the melody.)

I am also an instrumental musician, I guess, though I’m a much better singer than I am an oboist or pianist right now. Frankly, that’s because I wasn’t driven enough to keep practicing my instruments once I maxed out my natural ability and things got hard.

(Kids, please – keep practicing.)

But singing, I’ve been doing for my entire life. My mom nurtured my sister’s and my love of music from our earliest years, teaching us how to hold the melody while she sang harmony, then the reverse. She could tell we had “an ear” for it. I have sung in choirs large and small through high school and college, and had singing roles in musical productions. (That time when I was Rose in “Bye Bye Birdie” and forgot the words to one of my solos is probably a big reason that I now prefer the company of other voices.) I learned many important skills during my years with the college-community chorale, including punctuality, NOT EVER TALKING during rehearsal and always, always carrying a pencil to mark music.

In my early years in DC, I sang with two different local choruses. Once the kids came, I limited my singing to my church choir. While I enjoyed being a part of leading worship through music, I came to realize that it wasn’t quite scratching a musical itch I’d developed.

15002474_10154490298515944_992126786823873657_oAnd that’s why, when a friend suggested I audition for the National Philharmonic Chorale two years ago, I jumped at the chance. It’s a large group, and we sing choral masterworks, usually with the National Philharmonic Orchestra, but sometimes unaccompanied. It has been a great thrill to be part of productions presented at the Music Center at Strathmore, in my home county, near Washington, DC. And, it’s been just the challenge I was seeking.

As a behind-the-scenes supporting type, I’m not given to self-promotion, but I do want to share something with you: We have a concert this coming Saturday night. Here’s a link to the page that lists all National Philharmonic shows this season, through June, including Handel’s Messiah in December. Some are orchestra-only, with soloists, and for some, the chorale also takes the stage. If you decide you want to come see us, send me a message – I can hook you up with a discount code for tickets and answer all your questions.

I cannot imagine a world without music in it, let alone one where I’m unable to sing along. I believe there is real magic whenever any group makes music together. I know singing does not come naturally to everyone, but it’s in my bones, deep in my soul. Music is a lifelong gift, and I’m so grateful for it in all its forms. I get to sing with a whole bunch of people who feel the same way. Please, come hear us!