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.”

Looking at them, I realized they don’t explain the mysterious payoff. They don’t explain why singing makes me happy.

I love to straighten my spine, plant my feet apart, and generate a column of air. My lungs expand, my diaphragm flattens. I love the electric charge in the space between the conductor and singers, the tactile pleasures of holding music and scanning my eyes over notes. Then there’s the bigger picture, the surround sound effect, the spirit of community.

Trying to get a fix on it is like looking up at a dim star, visible only when you move your gaze off-center. Over there, the light shines brightest of all.

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Links to the biggie, local Messiahs:

Friday, November 16 - Publick Musick http://www.publickmusick.org/Performances/

November 30, December 2 - Genesee Valley Orchestra and Chorus presents an excerpted version http://www.gvoc.org/sched.htm

December 4 - Rochester Chamber Orchestra http://www.rochesterchamberorchestra.org/calendarDec.htm

December 14 & 15 - Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Oratorio Society http://www.rpo.org/

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Comments

Ha!

Brenda,
Funny notes! And a beautifully clear explanation of why you love to sing. The effort does end up being worth it (one hopes) for that sense of community, I agree.
Ta, Suzi

PS "All WL Sheep" note made me laugh very, very hard. Now it's going through my head though. Back to the iTunes for some Threepenny Opera!