My concert going experience Friday night was rather atypical. I went by myself. Other than the "Hallelujah" chorus, I had never heard any other parts of Handel's Messiah before. It was different, in several ways, than any classical concert I have attended. The orchestra was sparse, mostly strings, a few piccolos, a bassoon, later a few trumpets, and the keyboard player ping-ponging his way back and forth between the harpsichord and the organ. The choir was smaller than other occasions, but 43 was still a good size and sounded great. I really liked listening to that bassoon, on this occasion it was easy to discern.
Somehow I expected this composition to be more completely filled with chorus. I did enjoy the chorus and solo singers immensely, but I didn't quite expect so much of the traditional classical parts of the composition, the beautiful baroque orchestral music. These parts would really be interesting if put together in a form without the chorus, but then that wouldn't be the point.
I couldn't help but notice the audience around me. One fellow in particular had what appeared to be the complete score, faded yellow and a bit frayed. He seemed to be overjoyed to be there, and often showed the score to his friend beside him. He followed along with the music, mostly reading the score rather than watching the stage below. I was enthralled with his enthusiasm, it was contagious, and I couldn't help but frequently follow his actions. After a while I figured he must be a music director himself, perhaps of a local college or high school, and he was here to listen, observe, compare and somehow gather together his own impressions of how he would direct his own performance based on the show we were all enjoying.
There were others around me who were singing along at parts, especially the Hallelujah Chorus, even though the sing along wasn't this night. I believe the program was switched. Originally there was to be an audience sing-along on Friday evening, but it had been switched to Saturday. When they announced that at the beginning, some moaned and groaned, others laughed and seemed relieved.
I thoroughly enjoyed this experience, I can't wait to go back next year.
I wrote this description while watching "It's a Wonderful Life" on TV. At the end, when he is glad to live again, George Bailey, is hugging his kids and says "Hallelujah"! Now there's a sentiment with which I can thoroughly concur. "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings"