Monday, December 15, 2008

Handel's Messiah

At the request of Father Edit, here are some words concerning the Messiah concert in which I recently sang with my two Superaunts (that's super aunts, for those who don't remember).

Going into the concert, I was a bit nervous, but not because of stage fright. I'm going to be brutally honest, as I'm a musician, and if you want to call me a jerk, that's fine: the orchestra sounded dismal at the rehearsal on Saturday. Well, perhaps that is a bit harsh: the bassoonist and oboist were good. At any rate, I was nervous as to how well the work would hold together without the liberty of stopping and starting and getting everyone in the right place again.

Luckily, the directors had prepared for just such a situation, and the orchestra Sunday was larger than that of Saturday. The additional players seemed to have the advantage of knowing how to count.

I was sitting in the top row, next to my aunt. I was on the very end, and quite glad for it: I wouldn't have any dreadful singers in my ear to annoy me. Perhaps it was my mention of this fact to my aunts that was responsible for what happened.

One of the soloists was sitting in the row in front of me (there were four rows, so she was in the third). The space next to her was left open, so the soloists could stand at the mic for their parts. The soloist's daughter--who looked kind of like a Clementine, so that's what I'll call her--was absent for the sound check, and showed up after the opening prayer, when the announcer man was standing up and saying such-and-such about who-knows-what.

Clementine needed a seat. There were no black non-collapsible choir seats handy, so Clem, spotting a brownish-grey metal folding chair over against the wall, grabbed it and headed in for the open spot next to her mother. Her mother shook her head and whispered for her to sit on the ground row, the first row. Clem stood pondering this. I don't think she understood it. The girl next to her, by whom she would have sat had she sat on the first row, indicated that it was actually ok to go sit on the top row.

I, unfortunately, did not shake my head no. I should've. But I didn't, so Clementine climbed up the (rather large) risers to the top row, and placed her chair between me and the artificial Christmas trees that decorated the edge. I did not move my chair (and there wasn't room even if I had wanted to).

As Clementine was putting the chair in place however, she dropped it. Luckily, she was carrying it partway open, so it only fell on its feet, but a metal chair being dropped in any form is loud, and last night was no exception.

Thus began the concert.

As the work progressed, I learned that Clementine was not only somewhat tone-deaf, she apparently didn't know how to read music either. Well, maybe she does, but she's a follower singer. She kind of makes a noise that goes up and down and generally resembles singing, but only when the people next to her are singing too.

After a while I thought that maybe it wasn't a bad thing she was next to me: when such singers stand near me I tend to sing louder, to compensate for their off-pitch droning. I was singing very well last night, thanks to Clementine.

Other highlights:

-The hornist, who had a hairdo a la Napoleon Dynamite, fraqued* nearly every entrance, and quite a few of the other notes too. Apparently this isn't as noticeable to non-hornists.

-The tympanist, I was amazed to see, tuned the tympani without a note from a pitch pipe or anything. They were a few cents** off, but not enough that 99% of the people would notice.

-The trumpeter gave a mighty fraque in the Hallelujah chorus due to the fact that he crescendoed too early. Poor fellow.

-There is nothing quite as exciting as a live performance, especially when I am one of the performers.

-I would rather play the horn than sing.

-I miss my horn.

-I would rather perform than sit in the audience.

-The Hallelujah chorus will never cease to give me goosebumps.

The concert was greatly improved by the presence of Olive, Tree-hugger, and three of my cousins.

*fraque, v. 1. In music, to miss the note, esp. for a hornist or brass player. 2. Any instance in which a note is not properly played. Did you hear that fraque? He totally biffed it!

**100 cents is one half step.


schmath said...

How come you miss your horn? Don't you play anymore? Is your lip ok?

Betty Edit said...

Well, I don't really play that much anymore. My lip is ok, it just has never felt the same since the surgery... But I'm going to hopefully start playing more soon.