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Thursday, 01 January 2015


If you listen to a lot of the Bach Church music the vocal style is rather similar to Handel, complete with the repeated single syllables that go on forever. You might not notice as much because it's in German.

I am not a singer (I play Shakuhachi, a classical Japanese flute) nor am I particularly religious, but I thoroughly enjoy the Messiah sing along that is performed every December in Boulder Colorado. It's a community orchestra (audition required) and choir (no audition), professional soloists, plus a church full of people off the street.

I sit in the Bass section, because the only chance I have is if I'm surrounded by people singing the same part. Last month put me in the front row directly facing the Soprano soloist.

Some parts of the libretto are read, rather than sung to keep the entire performance down to about 2.5 hours. There is always one violinist who has a slightly different opinion of intonation from the rest. But it's great fun to get together with two or three hundred members of the community and do something together. It's fun to participate!

The nice thing about "church music" in a foreign language is that if you don't know the language, you can enjoy to the music without the text intruding. They could be singing about women and drink (e.g. Orff's Carmina Burana), and it doesn't disturb the listening.

Thank you.

That IS superb!

Ah, melisma. It's the vocal HDR of pop music.

The same conductor, choir and players - but with different (exemplary) soloists - made a CD for DG Archiv of this same work, which is firmly recommended: for non-seasonal listening also.

1987: John Eliot Gardiner, Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor, Evangelist), Anne Sofie von Otter (alto), Olaf Bär (bass), Hans Peter Blochwitz (tenor), Nancy Argenta (soprano), Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists. Archiv Produktion.

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