04.14.2021

12.04.2004

I saw the Messiah Tonight

Filed under: a group of folks,music,news @ 01:38

Handel’s, but still good.

The concert (only half of which was half of Handel’s piece) was a joint effort between four Caltech groups: the Chamber Singers (or thereabouts, I’ve left the program in my car), the Men’s Glee Club, the Women’s Glee Club and the Chamber Orchestra (in order of appearance). I should preface any further thoughts by noting that I had… not terribly high expectations. Caltech is a small place and so doesn’t have a large talent pool from which to fish. Also, we’re a skosh on the technical end of things; people talk about correlations between scientifically|mathematically minded people and musically minded people, but just because a person has the interest or the knowledge, doesn’t mean that person has the skill or the artistry. Violinists are the stereotypical exception. If you find a scientist or a mathematician who plays violin, chances are he|she is pretty good.

But on to the show. There were no seats left when we arrived. Paul.za and I found Katie and Ted and decided to sit on the hall steps where we could still hear (and to a great extent see) the ongoings. I ditched them, however, when I learned Michelle was sitting by herself (in a seat!) and that her neighbor had left. But, seriously. On to the show.

To quote Paul.za quoting someone else: the majority of the event failed to reach my whelm threshold. I’ll give the Chamber singers a “worth seeing”, but the Men’s glee club…. There are certainly people in the group with talent – a good bit of it too. I even know one of them (though before seeing him on stage, I had no idea he was even a singer – he’s one of the good ones). However, they sang some truly odious arrangements. I fairness, the arrangements (most notably that of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen) were very old school glee. But that didn’t make it good. To be most fair to the choir, the conductor picked some rancid songs. To be most forgiving to the arrangers, their pieces were not pulled off well. Take your pick; I’ve taken mine.

So, it was with hatches battened down that I began to listen to the third group: the Caltech Women’s Glee Club. I came to the concert in the first place for two reasons: I had not heard the Messiah in any continuity for some years; Dixie was to perform. Examining the program, I was pleased (though not surprised) to learn she would be soloing; Dixie is very discreet (or perhaps I am very unobservant). “Well”, I thought, “perhaps this will make up for the rest of the evening”.

Blown Away [full-stop]

The Women’s Glee Club is head, sholders, chest, navel, waste and hips above the men’s group. Their main advantage may have been their size, but, on the other hand, they did not sing songs which made me want to perform an autolobotomy. And Dixie. I had never heard her sing “properly” (as some might say) before. Now I have and am a happier person for it. If you haven’t, put her in a corner and take away her laptop until she buckles. In one word (I’m sure that’s all she’d give me): ethereal. Highlight song of the evening (excluding those I think of as “Dixie’s” or “Handel’s”): Snow composed by a person whose name is printed on the program in my car. I’d never heard it before. Just lovely.

And then came Handel. Where did they dig up those male soloists? I could answer my own question, but again, the program…. Both women came from Caltech, but the men were outsourced (or as outsourced as this incestual campus ever gets). They were both great, particularly the tenor who looked positively bored after his bit (all at the very beginning) was over. The orchestra did a fine job, all the choristers performed ably, and everyone stood up at the appropriate time.

If you didn’t go Friday, go Saturday. It’s definately worth it.

1 Comment

  1.  
    MDA 12.05.2004 @ 14:18

    I have just been informed: ‘”The Snow” [my apologies] is by Edward Elgar, most famous for giving us the classic
    “Pomp and Circumstance.”‘ Thanks Dixie.

    Sorry my site was broken – post away.

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