Although Handel’s Messiah was first performed in April of 1742, it has now become a traditional production for the Christmas season. I grew up with the Messiah as a natural part of our household at Christmas time. For as long as I can remember, my mother was a choir conductor and led the Messiah for years and years. More mature voices (with a minimum age 16) were required for the Messiah choir so naturally, I looked forward to my 16th birthday so I could finally join.
When my mom was 80 years old, she conducted the Messiah for the last time. I was fortunate to travel to Arizona to sing in that final production with her conducting. You can see her weathered and dog-eared score in the picture above. She just turned 90 and when she hears the music on TV or other places, she still “conducts” it from her chair, complete with cues for the different vocal parts.
I’ve had the chance to both sing in the choir and perform in the orchestras, playing flute, of course, for Messiah productions. I can’t choose which I like best. This is do know – I never tire of hearing it, playing it, or singing it. This holiday season Messiah productions and sing-alongs are probably not happening (thanks to Covid), at least I know they aren’t around here.
I’m grateful for the Messiah memories that I do have and look forward to the time when musicians can gather safely together again to express joy through music. Words cannot describe the feelings of being involved in a Messiah production. There is nothing quite like the glorious Hallelujah Chorus or the end of the majestic Worthy is the Lamb and the grand Amens to bring in the spirit of Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Find a great recording of it and rejoice this holiday season!!