Husband and I went to a performance of Handel's Messiah this afternoon—excerpts from, of course. Not the entire thing. It's an annual event in Small Town, with my orchestra and a community choir performing. Most of the soloists were local as well, although there was one soloist I didn't recognize.
Instead of holding it in the performing arts center, it's performed in a large church, which makes it a cozy concert. The Messiah isn't as big a draw as I thought it might be around here, so gathering in a church sanctuary is about right to handle the crowd.
I went to this performance last year, and I remember being put off by the tenor, who sounded as if his shoes were pinching his tiny feet and his bow tie might have been a tad snug. But this year, the soloist who replaced him was anything but pinched. He was a big man, broad in the shoulders like the side of a barn so that when he stood up, his arms hung out away from his torso. He was the only man in the choir not wearing a tuxedo—he wore a gray suit instead, and his red tie was slightly askew, not quite pulled tight and nudged left, and I loved him immediately. On cue, he took his spot, tilted his head back with chin up and let loose with buttery phrases that made you stop and listen intently. No fidgeting with your watch or looking over the program to see what would be next or recrossing your legs because the left one was going numb. What a voice that man had, and what a presence.
After the Messiah presentation, the choir came down from the front and stood in the aisles, and we all sang a cantata together. Conductor Eric had arranged it, focusing on Joy To the World. There were other carols in the mix, but we always came back to a verse of the main theme. Fortunately, the arrangement was unique but didn't preclude those of us who prefer to sing traditional harmonies from sliding into alto or bass, if we wanted. Very enjoyable. They say the human brain releases certain feel-good chemicals when we sing together, much more so than if we sing alone, and I got a suitable dose of those internal drugs today.
The photo here is of one of the ornaments on our tree—we've got the series of three monkeys who neither hear, see nor speak evil. They're made of wood with hinged legs.