Tuesday, December 08, 2009


This past fall I joined a choir. I've been singing with our little church choir for seven years and with my previous church choir for probably about 20 years before that. This year I joined a chamber choir called Choralis Camerata which is Latin for chamber choir.

It has been fun. It's more challenging than our church choir. There are something like 35 or 36 voices in this choir. I brought the number of tenors up to five. Our first concerts took place this past weekend. We performed Handel's Messiah. It was tough but it was fun. The orchestra that accompanied us was the Niagara-on-the-Lake Sinfonia.

The tenor parts that I'm used to singing with our church choir generally go up to an E, occasionally to an F and on rare occasions up to a G. In Messiah there are probably six to eight places where I had to hit an A. I managed it the first few times but when it got to the Amen chorus at the end of the piece and we were supposed to hit the A eight bars from the end or the entire oratorio I couldn't do it except by going falsetto.

We performed Messiah three times. On Friday, December 4 we were at St. Mark's Anglican Church in Niagara-on-the-Lake. On Saturday, December 5 we were at First Grantham United Church in St. Catharines. On Sunday, December 6 we were at St. Alexander's Roman Catholic Church in Fonthill. Three very different spaces. I felt like our best performance was on Saturday, at least I think my best singing happened then. People raved about us. I think we got the most smiles from our conductor on Saturday. And all three concerts were, if not SRO, at least full. There were no big gaps or spaces in the pews.

Many of the choristers were singing Messiah for at least the second time, some even more. It was my first time and I have to confess that I wasn't prepared enough. I should have practiced a lot more and known the pieces better. I was counting and reading way too much and making mistakes too often. This choir performs Messiah every two years so if I stick with them that long I'll do a lot better the next time around.

But it was still fun, and very moving. If you don't know Handel's Messiah, it's about Jesus. The text is completely from the Bible, starting with Old Testament prophecy that has come to be associated with Jesus, through to his birth, death, resurrection, and then praises to our Lord and King from the book of Revelation. If you've never heard anything else from Messiah you've certainly heard the Hallelujah chorus.

Our next concerts will be in February when we will sing some Gospel/Spiritual pieces in observance of Black History Month. I can't wait to sing some more.

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