What a night.

I’ve always held Handel’s Messiah up to be a great piece of musical literature. Since the first time I heard the Hallelujah Chorus, to the performance in Seminary with the Oratorio Chorus and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, to last night…

The town I live in is small but full of talent…all sorts of talent. Athletic, industrial, financial, musical…all sorts of talent. No one from the “inside” (those that grew up here and still live here) really sees it for what it is. But over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed it more and more. Before I came to this town, they had a small community choir that sang on a couple of occasions. The director of that group moved away and it pretty much fizzled out. When I came to town, that was one thing I desired to begin.

So, with the help of several “locals” we started the Elberton Community Chorus a few years ago. Our first program was centered around John Rutter’s Gloria. We also did several other Christmas pieces like The Little Drummer Boy, Still, Still, Still, and portions of the Christmas part of Handel’s Messiah (about 5 of the choruses). It was a great concert. Our second adventure was a salute to the Music of Disney – all your favorites. The next program we did was a tribute to the Music of Broadway…singing tunes from the all time top twenty musicals like Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, and Beauty and the Beast. 

This “season” – we’ve chosen to do Handel’s Messiah – in its entirety. We do leave out a large portion of the second part as that is fairly common practice in most public performances. Plus, even leaving out those selections, we’ve still got about 2 hours worth of music. We have hired instrumentalists from the Augusta Symphony Orchestra – some pulling double duty with the Athens Symphony. We’ve also hired vocal soloists from the Anderson, SC Area – most are music professors at Anderson University – that will sing the recitatives and arias. Our community chorus has about 15 choruses to learn…and our rehearsal schedule only allowed us 17 Monday rehearsals to get those ready. 8 of those rehearsals were an hour and a half in time. The rest are two hours in length.

So why this particular post topic? Last night was one of those rehearsals. We’ve gotten to the point now that we just need to do run-throughs and fix those small little problems that arise. We also use the time to remind the singers of all the little nuances that make the music good – dynamics, phrasing, diction, etc. We’ve learned almost everything…remembering the massive amount of information is another story.

But last night, many things fell together. And though it wasn’t perfect, and never will be, we had a great rehearsal last night. I’m grateful to be surrounded with this talent. I’m grateful for the opportunity to conduct this great piece of literature. I’m grateful.

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