Monday, December 24, 2007

Handel's Hallelujah Chorus

I should be asleep. The alarm is set to go off at 4:30 in the morning, so we can spend some time with the kids before Serena flies out for home. Yet, I'm awake. Drat.

My parents had a reel to reel tape recorder. Dad used it for work before his stroke. It was a massive thing by today's standards, I think each reel was close to 6 inches (15 cm). And heavy. But that was state of the art in those days. After his stroke, he didn't need it. We had pre-recorded tapes for it, I remember some were loaned by others to amuse him after he came home from the hospital, but the selection was...eclectic. The Messiah, Coppelia, western tunes... I think I remember some friends loaned/gave him tapes.

For whatever reason, I commandeered that machine. I needed it to go to sleep. I'd go to sleep listening to Coppelia or to Handel's Messiah. I'm sure I probably only needed one side to go to sleep, I seemed to have fallen asleep before "The Trumpet Shall Sound" for the Messiah, but I'd rouse for that. Wonder if that is why my Mom hates trumpets? She commented one time that they demand (bugle?) her attention.

Anyway, tonight I was thinking about the Messiah and the Hallelujah Chorus. How many times I've heard it or sung it in my life. My first memory of it is with that recording (no, I don't know who made it.) Then there is the memory of the pick-up choir of my high school days. A local religious institution invited anyone who wished to come for the afternoon to practice the Christmas portion of Handel's Messiah, to be performed that evening. We all came together, from MANY religious backgrounds, practiced (I'm sure that the sponsoring church's choir had practiced a LOT more) and then put on a performance that evening.

Then in college, the church we belonged to performed the Christmas and Easter portions on alternate years. Complete with brass quintet. I think that is the last time I sang it myself.

When we moved to New York, Serena was a member of the high school choir, which had the Hallelujah Chorus as the finale of the program every year. Anyone who had been a choir member in the past was invited to come up on stage and sing. It was a vibrant, exuberant performance, with friends meeting up since they had graduated. Some had been singing this together for 40 years or more. Most of them tried to get in on time, so they could get to the program. I know we tried to schedule her flights home from college in time so she could get there. Didn't always happen, due to finals schedule, but still...

Now, listening to XM stereo on tv, there have been a couple of playings of the Hallelujah Chorus. And there is still that stillness, that delight in the memories over the years.

Tonight, for some reason, instead of sleeping the Chorus is once again ringing in my head. The worst of it is that I can't remember, is it 3/4 or 4/4 time? Sheesh? Instead of the joy, why is THAT important?

We are waiting the birth of grandtad. Any day now. Whee!

No comments: