When Binny suggested that Handel’s Messiah Sing-In at Lincoln Center I was there. It’s one of those NYC institutions that I’ve never tried. I don’t read music so I was sure it wasn’t going to go well but I was willing to give it a shot.
First Binny, her husband, violaleeblue, Violet, rtb, and I met at The Smith across from Lincoln Center. Dinner was good and the company even better. There were some things I could complain a little about – the pork was under seasoned – but all in all a good experience.
We were having such a good time at the restaurant that we got to Avery Fisher Hall just in time. Martin Josman, Music Director for the National Chorale Council, was speaking. It’s their 45th year conducting the Sing-In. There are 17 conductors from choruses all around the tri-state area who individually lead the audience for each chorus in the Messiah with Joson leading us in the final chorus. Sarah Wolfson (soprano), Sarah Nelson Craft (alto), Kevin Courtemanche (tenor), and Markus Beam (bass) beautifully took on the solos. And Wei-En Hsu accompanied us on the organ.
From the start I knew I was lost. Binny had thoughtfully provided three librettos. Violet and violaleeblue read music and shared one. They’re both beautiful sopranos. Binny and I are altos – but she knew the melodies and I had no idea and I didn’t want to mess Binny up so I moved next to rtb, who refused to sing. The hall wasn’t full but there were about 2000 people. Many of them sing in professional choruses (a lot from the same choruses that the conductors came from) and they sounded beautiful. There isn’t much more wonderful than a room full of voices singing loudly up to the heavens.
We did laugh when I hit a very sour note. And with just the organ (especially during intros) I kept thinking of the circus. Of course, everyone stood tall and sang the loudest for the “Hallelujah.”
As we left we were serenaded by the NYC Performing Arts High School Choir (Vagarshak Ohanyan, conductor) singing Christmas carols. We thought they were just audience members who had decided to stay and sing from their seats but it turns out this was in the program.
Next year I get a copy of Handel’s Messiah and study beforehand.
By Carene Lydia Lopez