Growing up, from age 15 to about 20, I would sing the choir for our Stake’s performances of Handel’s Messiah. Our stake would perform Messiah at Christmas and Easter every year, and it was something that I looked forward too with great joy. The first year my mom invited me to come and sing in the choir, I thought I had made it to the apex of my choral singing experience because as far as my little 15 year old brain was concerned, Messiah was the pinnacle of all music ever written. My forty-somethin-somethin self still thinks that and, Messiah continues to be my most favorite work to sing.
I came across a Messiah concert this last week broadcast from Trinity Church in New York City. I loved the fact that the orchestra was a very small one and had period appropriate instruments and a very small choir — as it would have been performed in Handel’s day. The concert was held at the St Paul’s Chapel in lower Manhattan. This church is historically significant for two reasons in particular. After George Washington was inaugurated as president he attended a church service at St. Paul’s and after September 11th, this was one of the few buildings in the radius of the World Trade Center that was not damaged. In fact, the church served as a sort of command center for emergency response personnel. The church yard is also the burial ground for many important American’s such as Alexander Hamilton. Greatest choral work ever written + historical church = one happy me.
Now, if you’re me you listen to the whole concert twice in an afternoon and grab your Messiah score and sing along both times. If you’re not me and don’t have six extra hours to spend, here are some highlights to fill your ears with. There are a lot of highlights I could include and this was hard to whittle it down to just a few. I decided to omit For Unto Us a Child is Born and the Hallelujah Chorus, mostly because we all know those songs quite well and they get plenty of time in the spotlight. Here are a few other selections that are just as deserving of that spotlight.