This weekend I am looking forward to joining the Kona Choral Society in their performance of Schubert, Mass in G and Handel, Messiah on Sunday, Dec. 7th at 4:00 pm at the Sheraton Keauhou Resort. The concert marks the choir’s 25th anniversary with the same program it sang 25 years ago. Although the chorus numbers more than 90 singers, “an orchestra of the size and composition of the original performances will accompany our singers” according to the press release.
The Wikipedia entry on Messiah says “Handel wrote Messiah for modest vocal and instrumental forces, with optional settings for many of the individual numbers. In the years after his death, the work was adapted for performance on a much larger scale, with giant orchestras and choirs.”
I found out that Handel wrote this work in just 24 days, and without the benefit of music software programs or copy machines, this is indeed amazing. And apparently the autograph (original music manuscript) shows very few “blots, scratchings-out, unfilled bars and other uncorrected errors.” It was also a revelation to me that Handel signed this work Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone the glory), which is how Bach signed many of his compositions. I was always given the impression that Handel worked for money!
Oh, and another of my bugaboos, planted by a professor in graduate school. Handel’s last name is not pronounced “Hahn-del” — he was born in Halle, Germany, and if you are in Germany, there is an umlaut over the ‘a’ as in Händel, pronounced “Hen-del.” But the fact is that Handel became a naturalized British citizen in 1727 and spent the bulk of his career in England. Therefore his last name should be pronounced “hann-del” with a short ‘a’. I have verified this with several of my U.K. friends as to how they pronounce “Handel.”
The experience won’t be quite “all strangers,” as the chorus is directed by Susan McCreary Duprey, daughter of my late colleague, John McCreary. And I’m taking the same flights as Keane Ishii, with whom I’ve worked at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church the last few weeks. Keane will be singing the bass solos.