And climb the stairs to the beach...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Morning Folks 12 06 05

This coming Sunday we will have our 32nd annual Messiah Sing at our church. For those of you who have never been to a Messiah Sing, we have an orchestra and 4 soloists and the 'audience' is seated in sections: Alto, Soprano, Tenor and Bass. There is also a section for those who just want to listen.

The Christmas part of Handel's Messiah is presented, and the Hallelujah Chorus, of course. Between solos, the audience serves as the chorus and sings those selected parts of the score. We usually sing the Hallelujah Chorus next to last. And then as a sort of 'cool down' after a good workout, we sing Worthy is the Lamb that was Slain. Although this is at the end of the piece, and in the Easter part rather than the nativity part, it has a really fabulous Amen. And it is a wonderful way to end the afternoon. Almost no one knows the whole piece so well that they don't stumble now and then. And if we are lucky no new pieces are added. It is beautifully moving and giggling good fun all at the same time. When we sing His Yoke is Easy, we find it particularly ironic because it is so hard to sing that we usually end up giggling and getting the odd note out every 10 bars or so, yet landing together on the last note. Here is a link about the piece itself, including the story of why we all stand for the Hallelujah Chorus.

Messiah Sing Sudbury MA 12/204

Yup, I will be going on Sunday afternoon, bringing my own personal score, a gift from Mom 25 years ago. For years it was a tradition for Cindy (and one or both daughters) and I to go to the Messiah Sing and end the day with Hot Chocolate at Friendly's. But, it is a long way from Connecticut so Cindy doesn't make it every year. However, Becky is going to come this year, as she has the last couple of years since she returned from California and that is a treat.

I hope you get the chance to attend a performance or a Sing this Christmas or even just have the chance to listen to the CD. People all around the country and the rest of the world are doing the same thing. Here is a poem I found and have shared with some of you already. The poet, from Provincetown, explains his take on their local annual Messiah.

"Messiah (Christmas Portions)"
By Mark Doty

A little heat caught
in gleaming rags,
in shrouds of veil,
torn and sun-shot swaddlings:

over the Methodist roof,
two clouds propose a Zion
of their own, blazing
(colors of tarnish on copper)

against the steely close
of a coastal afternoon, December,
while under the steeple
the Choral Society

prepares to perform
Messiah, pouring, in their best
blacks and whites, onto the raked stage.
Not steep, really,

but from here,
the first pew, they're a looming
cloudbank of familiar angels:
that neighbor who

fights operatically
with her girlfriend, for one,
and the friendly bearded clerk
from the post office

--tenor trapped
in the body of a baritone? Altos
from the A&P, soprano
from the T-shirt shop:

today they're all poise,
costume and purpose
conveying the right note
of distance and formality.

Silence in the hall,
anticipatory, as if we're all
about to open a gift we're not sure
we'll like;

how could they
compete with sunset's burnished
oratorio? Thoughts which vanish,
when the violins begin.

Who'd have thought
they'd be so good? Every valley,
proclaims the solo tenor,
(a sleek blonde

I've seen somewhere before
-- the liquor store?) shall be exalted,
and in his handsome mouth the word
is lifted and opened

into more syllables
than we could count, central ah
dilated in a baroque melisma,
liquefied; the pour

of voice seems
to make the unplaned landscape
the text predicts the Lord
will heighten and tame.

This music
demonstrates what it claims:
glory shall be revealed. If art's
acceptable evidence,

mustn't what lies
behind the world be at least
as beautiful as the human voice?
The tenors lack confidence,

and the soloists,
half of them anyway, don't
have the strength to found
the mighty kingdoms

these passages propose
-- but the chorus, all together,
equals my burning clouds,
and seems itself to burn,

commingled powers
deeded to a larger, centering claim.
These aren't anyone we know;
choiring dissolves

familiarity in an up-
pouring rush which will not
rest, will not, for a moment,
be still.

Aren't we enlarged
by the scale of what we're able
to desire? Everything,
the choir insists,

might flame;
inside these wrappings
burns another, brighter life,
quickened, now,

by song: hear how
it cascades, in overlapping,
lapidary waves of praise? Still time.
Still time to change.



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