Messiah

China cracks down on Western sacred classics

A British newspaper is reporting that Chinese authorities are banning or tightening controls on performances of sacred classics such as Handel's Messiah and Mozart's Requiem.  Even Carmina Burana has fallen under suspicion.  (The Rochester Oratorio Society's repertoire came under Chinese scrutiny over the summer.  Only a few weeks before the group's trip to China, conductor Eric Townell got an e-mail saying all of the music had to be vetted.  His strategy?  He sent translations with the word "Lord" spelled with a small "l" in hopes authorities might miss it.)   Read the article here.

Deck the Hall

Twice this weekend, I zipped up my black boots for the drive to Eastman Theatre to sing Handel’s Messiah with the Rochester Oratorio Society and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. I could go on at length about the wit and drama in conductor Christopher Seaman’s interpretation, what a pleasure it is to sing for him, and how, for me, the oratorio gets better each year like a vintage bottle of wine.

Handel's fairy door

Maybe I’m too scattered to concentrate on reading a novel. Maybe I’m becoming too obsessed by blogging. Maybe I’m going through a phase. Whatever the case, I’ve been reading a lot of short stories lately, flipping through Anne Panning’s new collection Super America and the new anthology edited by Stephen King, The Best American Short Stories 2007.

Writer Anne Panning speculates that since we usually expect novels to end on a happy note, short stories provide a vehicle for loneliness and bleakness in a way that novel can't.

The thought crossed my mind the other day when I picked up the November 19th New Yorker and started reading Antonya Nelson’s engrossing short story, “Or Else.”

the savage breast

Monday night. Off to Oratorio Society to practice singing Handel’s Messiah.

I’m not alone. Hundreds of local singers all over Western New York are preparing for what’s become a holiday ritual. Adding up the performances from my group, the Rochester Chamber Orchestra, The Publick Musick, and dozens of smaller choirs, you could probably hear Messiah live twice a week until Christmas. Beats shopping.

In a feeble effort to live a more mindful existence, I recently started taking notes during rehearsals.

My notes look like this:

“Altos flat.”
“All WL Sheep like NBC theme.”
“Poor Eric w/ broken arm!!”
“Gates have no heads.”
“Hallelujah. UGH.”