Sunday, December 21, 2008

Another Messiah in the bag

Last night was the final night of this year's ESO Messiah run, and in many ways, it was a highlight!

The soloists were stellar, the best I've heard in a while, as was the conductor, and I'm not ashamed to say, so was the choir!  This is the second time that i Coristi and Da Camera have joined forces for the annual Christmas production of Messiah, and by all accounts, including comments from the orchestra players themselves, it was one of the best choirs assembled for the production.

It got me wondering - as many choral musicians do, how many performances of Messiah I have done.  I've sung it on and off now for about 25 years, first as a treble in Ottawa, then later a few times as a countertenor, and in the last 10 years, on and off as a tenor, or countertenor (this last production I sang alto, just to add a bit of beef to it - as it can be quite low for most chorus altos - and I tell ya, it's a whole lot of fun!)

So, unofficially, here is the count of Messiah performances I have sung:

from approximately 1983-1997 (while in Ottawa with various choirs) - I'm guessing about seven performances total
From 1997-2008 (Edmonton ) - this is a bit more precise
With Richard Eaton Singers - two productions, five performances
With Pro Coro Canada - three productions, five performances
With Madrigal Singers - two productions, four performances
With Da Camera Singers - one production, two performances
As a conductor - one "sing-along" concert with chamber orchestra - and a choir of ... 600+?

Total - 16 productions, 25 performances of Messiah in the last twenty-five years.

By no means a world record, but not bad for someone who isn't forty yet.  I suspect there will be a few more performances before I'm done.

Unlike some people who have blogged about Messiah in recent years - I'll never tire of it!

For the record:

Number of times I've sung just the Hallelujah Chorus?  Unknown.

Number of times I've sung along, or conducted along, with the Paul McCreesh recording after a few glasses of wine? - Classified.


Jocelyn Lavin said...

I'm sorry I seem to have hit such a nerve with you last year by saying that Messiah is not my favourite work. Don't you think life would be boring if we all liked the same things equally? Glad you enjoyed your performance, anyway!

John Brough said...


Ha! I had actually forgotten where I got that quote from last year, and of course that link is now defunct, so I couldn't check to see where it came from - I had actually seen, and by that time, heard from so many people who didn't enjoy singing Messiah, so I was trying to figure out why it was so unpopular with them - turns out in 99% of the times - it was mainly just because they had sung it "too many times", or have had to learn the work in a setting which wasn't ideal (usually around others who are quick to express their dislike of the work, or be involved with a choir that is generally speaking just "tired" of it. I'm quite glad that our Symphony has decided to start a 5-6 year cycle of Messiah choirs now, so now we don't have "one" choir that sings the Messiah every year. Although, as I'm involved in most of them, I think I'll always be involved on some level.

I have to admit that at one point I was moving towards that side of the "tired" argument as well - but now I strive to find out something new about it all the time - and I've been so lucky to work with so many great conductors during the last 25 years or so that I have sung it - that there is always something new to appreciate about it.

That, and the fact that Handel generally speaking rocks makes it a pretty darn good piece of music!

Like you say though - it is good that we are allowed to all have different likes and dislikes, it makes the world a more interesting place to live!

Thanks for checking in!

Kimberly said...

Thanks for this post - it was an insightful for me, giving me an un-contemplated point to view!
Merry Christmas