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Merry Christmas!

15 Dec

Ok, so I don’t usually post videos on here and this is the second one in a couple of weeks but it’s marvelous! So consider this my Christmas gift to you all! I laughed until I cried and I don’t do that very often! Somehow, combined with our recent performance of Handel’s Messiah, this was the icing on the cake! There are several different versions of this on You Tube but this is my favorite.

So I give you Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus as you’ve never seen it before!

Handel’s Messiah

26 Nov

Part of me doesn’t want to listen to Handel’s Messiah again for at least a year.

Another part of me wants to be back on stage again and again, singing it better each time, and reveling in the fun of the moment, the gorgeous soloists, the lovely accompanying symphony.

Part of me will not miss waking up singing a different chorus every day, wondering which one it will be today that follows me around incessantly.

Another part of me will miss having the background theme songs in my dreams.

I will miss having something to challenge me musically – it had been many, many years since I’d sung in a choir and what will fill that void? I will miss seeing new friends every week. I will miss the anticipation – several decades in the making – of singing this oratorio. For as long as I can remember – probably way back when my parents sang in it when I was a kid, Dad taking the bass solo and Mom the soprano – I have wanted to be a part of The Messiah.

In 10th grade, I missed out on singing the Hallelujah Chorus because I was ill. Had I known that it was a traditional part of the Christmas program at my school (it was my first year there) then I would have dragged myself out of bed and sung my heart out (probably infecting the entire soprano section in the process).

But I didn’t know. And I’ve been bummed ever since.

If I had a better voice – and a lot more ambition – I probably would have sung it long before now, as had many members of the chorus. But as it is, I second-guessed my presence in the rehearsal room every week! But I never wanted to quit. Not once.

As we performed the songs last night – to a sold-out crowd – I tried to enjoy the moment, to soak in the music, the ambiance. I was sitting right behind the bassoons with their fabulous, pure, deep notes, which was enough to practically make me swoon. And as for the soloists – well, I closed my eyes and imagined I was in Carnegie Hall, they were that good.

I wished I was sitting next to my husband so that I could hold his hand and share the moment, but he, a tenor, was much too far away in the 70-some member choir. It was fun singing with him, though. He sings a lot more than I do so I enjoyed the rare chance to at least be in the same group with him.

Handel’s Messiah actually features in our courtship. My parents had invited him over for dinner – it was the first time he met my dad, I think, though he’d met Mom before. He came into the house and we all sat down at the table and The Messiah was playing in the background. My dad turned to him and asked him if he know what the music was.

Colin smiled and replied, “Handel’s Messiah!”

Dad smiled in return and, with his smile, told him he had permission to court his daughter.

Colin swiped his forehead and said, “Phew! I’m just glad it was a well-known piece of music!”

Dad nodded. “You got lucky, young man.”

That all happened close to 20 years ago. Last night, sitting there beneath the bright lights, felt like the culmination of that moment.

At various times throughout the concert I squinted into the crowds and found our children, sitting with a dear friend of mine, and I couldn’t wait to hear what they thought of it all.

When it was all over – after the intermission, after the Worthington Area Symphony Orchestra filled the auditorium with the marvelous strains of The Nutcracker Suite in the second half of the program and we’d sung Christmas carols (such a great entrance into the holiday season) and retrieved our coats and returned our music (a sad moment) our kids finally found us and hugged us and told us what they thought. Our youngest, at seven years old, said, “I loved it!” I asked her what bits she liked best. Without a pause she replied, “I don’t know. I slept through most of it.”

And that, my friends, is how our children keep us humble. Because Mom may be having an existential moment. But Lucy, lulled by the beauty of the music, just needed a nap.

For the Love of Vinyl: Part Two

1 Nov

I’ve been spending time listening to my records, as I discussed in Tuesday’s post. It’s so nostalgic, hearing the imperfect playback. Not exactly relaxing, however, not when listening to 45’s that only last for about three minutes.

I had a few old 45’s that were my dad’s. That’s how I learned “Unchained Melody” sung by Les Baxter and accompanied by his orchestra, on a purple, “Capitol Records” label. My sister and I would sing it dramatically to each other, her from her loft in the bedroom we shared, and I on the swing that hung from the rafters in the center of our room. I wish I had a picture of that room; it was so cool.  (By the way, this version I’ve linked is the exact version I have! If you shut your eyes while you listen to it, you can imagine it’s on vinyl. :-))

We even had a National Geographic record. Remember those? They’d be inserted in the magazine and you could tear them out – they were floppy – and then you could listen to real “Sounds of the Space Age”.  Highly educational. I didn’t listen to that one too often.

We found this 45 of The Hobbit a few years ago at a flea market. Had to get it even though we still have the 33 1/3. It’s a perfect example of those Read Aloud records. And how about that National Geographic record? It’s slightly bent and I couldn’t get it to play correctly at all when I tried today!

On Tuesday I mentioned that my kids love to listen to The Rescuers and The Hobbit. Those were my first-ever 33 1/3’s. The Hobbit is “The Complete Original Soundtrack including dialogue, music and songs” from the Rankin/Bass movie production in 1977. And, of course, it has the “special edition book” with it. My husband is phenomenal at knowing lines from movies, but he can’t hold a candle to my ability to quote The Hobbit. (By the way, I have already written “Go see The Hobbit” on December 14th on my calendar. Can’t wait.)

As for The Rescuers, it’s also from 1977, and actually was the first movie I saw in a theater. My sister gave me the “Songs and Dialogue” album for Christmas that year and I loved it. My dad, sadly, did not realize how much I loved it and he got rid of it in one of their cross-the-country-or-world-moves and I was so sad, nevermind that I was in college by then. I told my husband that story years ago and he, bless his heart, went onto E-Bay and bought me the exact same album. How great is he? So, even though it’s not my original album, my kids – and I –can still enjoy it.

A small piece of my childhood.

Occasionally I’d raid Mom and Dad’s 33 1/3 collection of records, but not too often, because all they had was classical. Oh, but he had Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass, “Whipped Cream and Other Delights”. Oy, vey, that album cover!

I was a wee bit shocked when I found this in my parent’s record collection, many, many moons ago. Turns out, it was quite the phenomenon!

But my favorite records of my parents’ were The Smothers Brothers. “Curb you tongue, knave!”, “The Two Sides of the Smothers Brothers”, “think ethnic!”, and “…at the Purple Onion” – these are still the stars of my record collection. There weren’t a lot of times I saw my mom wiping her eyes from laughter, but listening to the Smothers Brothers would make her do that. “The Streets of Laredo”, “Chocolate” and “Black is the Colour (of my Love’s True Hair)” – those were probably our favorite cuts from the albums. They were part of our family vocabulary. And – I love this story – it is partly due to The Smothers Brothers that I decided my husband would be a worthy candidate to be my husband. Never, in all my life, had I met anyone who knew who I was talking about if the topic of the Smothers Brothers came up. Then along he came and he knew. It was meant to be.

These are so awesome!

A few years back I found a duplicate album of theirs and bought it because I was into making bowls out of records – you melt them in the oven and have a cute bowl! (Take a look at how to do it! It’s easy!) I thought it would be extra-fun to have a Smothers Brothers bowl to hold candy AND memories. My husband wouldn’t let me melt it. “It’s the Smothers Brothers! That would be sacrilege!” So we have two of that album. Two, nice and flat records.

I made my bowl from an old Amy Grant album. He didn’t care about that one so much.

A little piece of my teen years: made more useful, according to The Sailboat King. It would be perfect in a Rumpus Room. If only I had a Rumpus Room…

I heard the other day that someone was releasing their brand new album on compact disc AND on vinyl. I love that. There’s nothing like having a record on in the background to sooth your soul.

Here’s a sample of The Smothers Brothers from long ago.  Enjoy!


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