Messiah, Messiah, Messiah. This time with our guest conductor Mark Bailey in the room.
We started with “Glory to God” with notes to lift a little during And peace on earth, and be more crisp during the Glory to God.
Then “Lift up your heads” with notes to shorten some eighth notes to sixteenth notes as well as bring the sound back on the back of words like Glory, mighty and also little more emphasis on Lord and Hosts rather than the or of.
Next Up – “He trusted in God” he wants us to do this gossipy, mocking and nasty. Watch the tempo too.
Following up with “Since by man came Death” where he wanted us to build/hold tension but keep it soft. He told us that this is one of the only places Handel has the choir unaccompanied in the piece. Cool insights!!
The next piece we did was “And the Glory of the Lord”. He keeps on reminding us that we should be doing a strong week pulse, ie pulling back on the second half of the word. Also some changes in emphasis, like Mouth of the Lord.
We then moved onto “O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion” again reminding us about the strong weak pulse. He wants us to be lighter and concentrate on the text. The words and in this case the words mean more than the music!
The next piece was a new piece for us following “How beautiful are the feet”. This piece is not often sung and is only in this Oxford score. Interesting with some good insights from Mark.
He took us through the start of the second half and explained how the first part is the Christmas story while the second and third parts are the Easter story, with all the angst and horror that follow after the hope of Jesus birth.
We ran through “Behold the Lamb of God” which now has a couple of extra measures that Mark had spent time and research discovering – using microscopes on original scores and such.
Next up was “Surely He hath borne our griefs” stating we should smoothly run through surely and not break it up or emphasize the last half of the word. At parts we are to be snarly and for those of us basses really push the “bruised”.
“And with His stripes” was the next one up, and this one has another couple of extra measures Mark found in doing his research. The emphasis on the strong/weak beat was there again and I think we all had a moment during the last three measures talking about healing.
“All we, like sheep” came next which Mark described as rhythmically controlled neuroses, relating it to a pilot describing a landing as a controlled crash. He also commented on how our phrasing was clean which gives him permission to take it at the tempo he did during rehearsal.
Mark told us that the piece “For unto us a child is born” is based on a folk song that would have been well known at the time Messiah was written. We Basses were complimented on our runs and we were all reminded of the strong/weak pulse idea.
We then moved onto “And he shall purify” here Mark wants us to move through purify and not chunk it up adding more energy about every 8 sixteenth note during the runs. Kind of fun building that excitement.
Lastly we did the “Halleluia Chorus”. He started us off and we went for it, but then he stopped us and said we had done well up to a point keeping it light and using that strong/weak pulse but that we began to lose it after while. So he asked us to sing it like the light motet it was meant to be not “heavy”. To lighten it up and dance with it.
Next up piano rehearsal in the Winspear followed by our first orchestra rehearsal tomorrow. Just found out we are also doing a groaning board after the Saturday night concert.