Sunday, December 6, 2009

Handel's Messiah @ St. Clement's.

Talk about Holly & Jolly: Joan and I went and saw my friend Kelly and the choir and orchestra from St. Clement's Church in Lincoln Park perform Handel's Messiah by candlelight this afternoon/evening. It was a beautiful performance and the church was incredible. I'm pretty sure we accidentally sat ourselves in the "preferred seating" section, so we were right up there and had a great view. The sound was fantastic and the as the program described, "the building resounds with a near-perfect acoustic unparallelled in the Chicago area". These pictures are pretty bad, and photographing the performance was not allowed, but maybe you get the idea. The architecture is a Byzantine and Romanesque combination, with a soaring dome and amazing arches, mosaics and paintings.

What I also thought was interesting were the instruments used by the orchestra, which was comprised of a group of musicians mostly specializing in "playing music of the baroque and classical eras using period instruments, which use gut strings, resulting in a warmer, more vocal tone than their modern counterparts. The baroque oboes are also warmer and more full-bodied, and the trumpets are valveless." (!!!)

There is a definite threat of this becoming a little holiday tradition I embrace. And although I am not catholic, I can see myself visiting this church again on another occasion. I find it hard to believe that a church choir and orchestra can perform such a show. They are clearly a special assembly of people. I wonder how many of them migrated to the church to become part of this group compared to being members of the congregation first?

What a fine, festive evening spent in the company of some good old friends.

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