Friday, February 21, 2014

Hallelujah Chorus...again.

[I love this performance. Notice that BOYS are singing the soprano and alto parts in this performance. Also notice the trumpets do not have valves.]

Surely you have heard this piece of music!

Today in class we talked about Handel's oratorio, The Messiah

A masterpiece.

[That is why this piece is on my mind. 
Bear with me.
I am hopeful that I don't repeat too much of the same stuff from an earlier post here.]


A little background for my non-musician friends.

An oratorio is a dramatic multi-movement composition that makes use of vocal soloists, a chorus, and orchestra.  It is often based on a biblical topic.  There is no scenery, costumes, dancing or any of those other things you might associate with opera.

In fact, a student once said his high school choir director took them to the most BORING opera he'd ever had to sit through.

I asked if there had been action, scenery, costumes. He said, "No, they just stood to sing then sat down!" I told him he had probably been at an oratorio.


There is a tradition that goes along with the "Hallelujah Chorus."

The tradition is to stand during the chorus.

The story goes that many years ago when the king attended a performance of the oratorio, The Messiah, that he stood at the beginning of the "Hallelujah Chorus."  And, when the king stands, EVERYONE stands.

It would be grand to think that he was so moved by the music that HRM leapt from his seat in joy.

Odds are more likely that he was just tired of sitting sing this piece occurs a ways into the entire 2.5 hour work.


I have quite a bit of history with this piece.

My first experience was singing it in my high school chorus accompanied by piano.

Then in my undergraduate years my college chorus sang it - a cappella!

During my graduate studies I had the opportunity to experience the work in two different ways. First, I got to play with the university's orchestra to accompany the performance. Then, as the final for my private conducting lessons, I got to conduct/run a rehearsal of the entire Messiah with the orchestra. What a wonderful opportunity that was! Sure, my heart sank as my private instructor pushed the score (1" thick) towards me and told me that was my final, but BOY, what a final!

As my career as a music teacher moved forward my experiences with the oratorio and this piece was through performances with the local community chorus as well as annual community sings of the entire work during the Christmas season.

Now, I get to share it with my students.

I guess the funniest story I have about this piece is when I played it over the loud speaker at my school on the last day of school after all of the students had gone.

[I'll let you in on a little secret: teachers celebrate the end of the school year just as students do! Shhh!!]

Little did I know, as the teachers were celebrating in their rooms and in the hallways, that my principal was in an important meeting in the superintendent's office.

Let's just say, she was not amused. :(

But, I did survive to tell about it! :)


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