Showing posts with label Handel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Handel. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hallelujah! Dunedin

Hallelujah! Dunedinites, you have another great opportunity to hear Handel's glorious oratorio, Messiah on Tuesday 13 December, 7:30 pm, in the Regent Theatre.

Extra, extra! Dunedin's beloved Anna Leese will sing the soprano solo role. Get your tickets now from TicketDirect online or at the Regent.

Here is the Hallelujah! chorus from Handel's sacred oratorio Messiah (HWV 56) performed by City of Dunedin Choir and Southern Sinfonia, conducted by David Burchell, on 11 December 2007 in the Dunedin Town Hall.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Silent monks

You might enjoy this! We are rehearsing Messiah now, but certainly not silently. Our performance on Tuesday 13 December will be a few notches above this one, so get your tickets for Messiah without delay!

Also check out the nuns' version elsewhere on our blog.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Messiah on 13 December

City of Dunedin Choir and Southern Sinfonia present Handel's Messiah in the Regent Theatre (since the Town Hall is closed for renovations) on Tuesday 13 December.

Both the choir and the orchestra are in top form, and with awesome soloists and superb conductor David Burchell, you can expect a top-notch performance!

Tickets are on sale now - don't delay; get yours today!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Messiah score

Especially for new choir members - note that members are expected to have their own copy of Handel's Messiah since this work is performed every second year. The Watkins Shaw edition is recommended.

Here are some options for sourcing a copy:

Copies of Messiah can be purchased online from: 


Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Book Depository (UK) with free delivery to NZ

Purchase from Dunedin bookshops:

University Bookshop
Beggs Music Works

Download free PDFs of the entire or parts of the Messiah score from:,_HWV_56_%28Handel,_George_Frideric%29


or this score, based on the Chrysander edition:

And remember this wonderful practice resource at Cyberbass:

Monday, July 25, 2011

O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings

George Frederic Handel - 'O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion' from "Messiah" Performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Food Court Flash Mob Hallelujah

Here's another of those wonderful flash mob performances - quite a good one this! Enjoy - and thanks to Sarah Mitchell for pointing out this one!

On 13 November 2010 unsuspecting shoppers got a big surprise while enjoying their lunch. There are over 100 participants in this awesome Christmas Flash Mob.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hallelujah Chorus

Have you seen on youtube the "flash mob" perfomance (a Random Act of Culture) of the Hallelujah Chorus at Macy's in Centre City, Phladelphia. Now we could totally do that in the Meridian or Wall Street, apart from the small technical hitch of not having a rather large organ apparently permanently sited in the mall.

There are a number of versions, but if you check out, you'll spot the bass who hadn't actually learnt it off by heart!

Which reminds me.... there's no Messiah listed in next year's music. I do hope that's an oversight.... Even if the Town Hall is out of action, we could do two performances in two smaller venues - I 'd be happy to offer First Church! (Just give me time to clear it with Session first...)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Passion by Handel

Yes, Handel wrote a couple of Passions. They are early works. One of them is a St John Passion. It is quite a good work, but not enough for the chorus, I think.

Then there is the Brockes Passion. Brockes is the person who wrote the libretto based on John's gospel, and it was used by several composers. The Bach St John Passion uses the Brockes text.

The Handel Brockes Passion still does not have quite enough for the chorus ( I think), but the choral writing is very good. The are choruses that sound distinctively like Handel - the opening chorus is a great piece. The work is different from Bach - Handel gets Jesus to sing a duet with his mother. It is interesting to see the way Handel sets the Weg, weg chorus.

This Brockes Passion will be performed in Auckland (first ever NZ performance) at Pitt St Methodist Church on April 10.

Bach knew the Handel work, and there is a version in Bach's handwriting.

Handel re-used some of the music in Oratorios which he wrote in England - Deborah and Esther..

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

MESSIAH tonight

Kate Spence.
We are all revved up to give a top-class performance tonight - do come along to the Dunedin Town Hall for the 7:30 pm performance of Handel's Messiah. That's it - today Tuesday 8 December!!!

Wendy Dawn Thompson, mezzo-soprano billed to sing with us tonight, has unfortunately caught the nasties and her throat is now so sore that she will not be able to sing tonight. This must be the worst nightmare for a soloist... all the preparation, travelling to the concert city, the anticipation of participation (doesn't that sound nice and corny?), feeling that you are letting down the team...

Genuinely, this must be a great disappointment for Wendy and it certainly is for us too. All we can do for Wendy is give her our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

We are delighted to announce that mezzo-soprano Kate Spence is available to take Wendy's place. We have sung with Kate before and know that this experienced and sweet-voiced soloist will do us proud tonight. Thank you Kate, for your willingness to perform on such short notice. We know that you can probably sing Messiah flawlessly in your sleep, so we are looking forward to hearing you tonight.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Messiah tickets selling fast

Get your tickets now!

City of Dunedin Choir presents Handel's Messiah
Tuesday 8 December 2009, 7:30pm
Dunedin Town Hall

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fun with the Glory of the Lord

You had to be there, but I'll tell you about an hillarious moment at last night's rehearsal. Our illustrious conductor, David Burchell, decreed that the opening chorus of Handel's Messiah, And the Glory of the Lord, shall be sung with the scores closed. Right. We all agree that will make for a very powerful opening statement, as it were, to the performance. We do sound better when we don't have our heads buried in the copies. We've been warned, so now our memories were put to the test.

David did promise he would bring us in at the right place, so we all watched him like a hawk (or would that be a flock of hawks?), him being the only one allowed an open score.

Of course the Altos have the honour of the very first entry, an easy one to get right but very much exposed with no other supporting voices. We (I'm one of them) were on our toes at that point, and elicited an "Altos, that was smashing!" from David. That was not the funny bit, but pleasing nevertheless.

Then further along it all collapses, David admitting to being the cause: "Basses, I misled you - I looked at you and you sang!". On we go...

And then the whole choir dissolved in hysterics when the Sopranos forgot to come in on "For the mouth..." which caused the Altos to miss their cue.

Not to worry, in the end we got it right, and there are a few rehearsals yet to get the order of the notes firmly fixed in the little grey cells.

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's all in the name

Carved marble statue of Handel.
George Frideric Handel (German: Georg Friedrich Händel) (23 February 1685 – 14 April 1759) was a German-English Baroque composer, who is famous for his operas, oratorios, and concerti grossi. His life and music may justly be described as "cosmopolitan": he was born in Germany, trained in Italy, and spent most of his life in England. Born in Halle in the Duchy of Magdeburg, he settled in England in 1712, becoming a naturalised subject of the British crown on 22 January 1727.

Handel adopted the spelling "George Frideric Handel" on his naturalization as a British subject, and this spelling is generally used in English-speaking countries. The original form of his name (Georg Friedrich Händel) is generally used in Germany and elsewhere, but he is known as "Haendel" in France, which causes no small amount of grief to cataloguers everywhere.

The picture is of a carved marble statue of Handel, created for the Vauxhall Gardens in 1738 by Louis-François Roubiliac, and now preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Vauxhall Gardens was a pleasure garden, one of the leading venues for public entertainment in London, England from the mid 17th century to the mid 19th century.

[Extract from Wikipedia.]

Don't miss the City of Dunedin Choir's performance of Handel's Messiah on 8 December 2009 at 7:30 pm in the Dunedin Town Hall. Tickets are on sale now!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sam McGredy's Handel

Sam McGredy the well-known rose breeder, moved to NZ from Portadown in Northern Ireland in 1972. This climber was bred in Northern Ireland in 1965. It is called HANDEL - which is why I've posted the pictures I took of it in the Botanic Garden on Saturday. Like paint colours the naming of roses is full of deep unfathomable mysteries. Maybe McGredy had just heard a performance of some Handel - though I doubt it would have been Messiah, as that is a traditional Christmas oratorio. Roses and Christmas make sense down here in the southern hemisphere, but not of course in Portadown!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bach, Handel and their eyesight

It is well known that Bach and Handel both went blind late in life. I knew that they had operations by the same English surgeon which had been failures and left them blind. I looked up the wikipedia articles last week.

It turns out that both Bach and Handel suffered cataracts which are very easily treated now. It seems that in the 18th century all that could be done was that a hole was made in the cataract, and hope for the best, but many people were made blind by this operation.

It seems that Bach's operation may have left him with a stroke, which killed him shortly after.

Handel lived for some time after his operation, and had to dictate some of his final compositions to a copyist.

Monday, July 6, 2009

1, 2, 3, 4 - We're City Choir, now hear us roar!

I really feel sorry for the poor people in Dunedin who didn't make it to either one of our concerts this weekend. Because they missed a rip snorter of a time. Not just one major work, but four. Not just one Important White Dead Guy, but four! Yeeee haaaaw!

In fact, I was going to title this blog post "Yeeee haaaaw!" but I don't think Purcell, with his very pretty, curly wig, would have approved. Then again, with his lame in-jokes and buckle shoes, maybe he would have. Who knows?

Purcell - Come, Ye Sons Of Art

One thing that is certain is that he would have approved mightily of our rendition of "Come Ye Sons Of Art" with which our "Anniversary Accolades" concert opened. We tuned our voices, our instruments played, and it was all just beautiful. I could see the audience grooving along to the music, bopping their heads in time to the beat, and as I was singing I couldn't help thinking "Yeah, baby! We're rocking this town!"


Haydn - Seasons (Spring)

On to the next dead white guy, it was time for us to nail Haydn's "Seasons" - the "Spring" part of it anyway! More in-jokes with parts of the score that sounded rather familiar to those of us who know other works by this composer - but hey, what's a bit of self-plagiarism between friends? It's nice to know that these guys weren't as dismally-minded as their rather staid press shots would lead one to suspect:


Personally, I think Haydn hated sopranos. I mean, anyone who writes top B Nasties for choir sopranos that run on for nearly two full bars is asking for a fight. I'd deck him if he were alive today. Lucky for him he's not. But my fellow sopranos did a magnificent job - page 53 wasn't the first, or the last, point in the night that I was tremendously proud of the women of City Choir. We took that B Nasty and told Haydn exactly what he could do with it!

Not only were we singing well, but the Sinfonia and our soloists were sounding wonderful. In particular, Stephen Chambers, our Tenor soloist, was worth a mention. He sounded glorious, his diction and tuning spot on. While all the soloists were great, I particularly enjoyed his performance.

Two works down, it's half time, we're looking good. Several very snarly passages are under our belts, and it is time to grab a quick gulp of water and do a quick dash to the loo before we're back on stage in our sardine-esque positions.

Handel - My Heart Is Inditing

We're on for Handel with the wonderful Michael Dawson at the helm. And not only does Michael do an incredibly job in his orchestral debut, guiding us through the not-exactly-easy twists and turns of Handel, but he is also obviously completely in control of the excellent Sinfonia.

A few words of thanks

While I'm talking about Michael, I also want to say something about the fact that David has been generous and thoughtful enough to give Michael this opportunity. Few choral directors would have shown the trust and respect that David has in Michael. He has been supportive of Michael not just in City Choir, but also in St Pauls Cathedral Choir.

It is so important not just to direct a Choir and Orchestra well, as David does, but also to raise the next generation to follow in your footsteps. I can't say enough about how important this job is, and how highly I think of David for giving this opportunity to Michael in such a respectful way. Both men were a credit to City Choir and to Dunedin this weekend. I think we are all very fortunate to have them.

Back to the concert

At this point in the concert we were getting our teeth into "My Heart Is Inditing" with Michael. From where I was standing, the diction was good and clear, the notes precise, and the choir and audience attentive. The movements worked well. I'll admit I'm a bit of a fan of Handel - more so than of Purcell especially, or of Haydn. Purcell always sounds a bit wrong to me - like it was written for different tuning, or something. Don't ask me what exactly - I'm no music expert - but know what I hear. The chords don't quite fit together, and the notes somehow don't feel quite confortable with one another. They rub against each other as enemies, not as friends.

Handel, on the other hand, always feels bright and correct to me, and it did last night. It sits well in the voice, and if we had a few issues with pitch, they were not noticed by the audience as far as I could see. Michael had good contact with the choir, and overall the movements came off well.


Mendelssohn - As The Hart Pants

On to the last of our four composers - Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn is often touted as a composer who writes particularly well for the voice, and "As The Hart Pants" is a good example of his work. He works up to the high notes for the sopranos rather than dumping them at you, and the body of the line sits comfortably within your range, so you never feels stressed or strained when singing his work. Maybe this is why I like Mendelssohn, even though I don't much like this particular translation of the biblical text.

"As The Hart Pants" started off beautifully with the alto entry, and the altos entered so well that I really wished I was back singing alto again, like when I first started singing in choirs! They just sounded so smooth, so rich, and so beautifully in tune. It was a pleasure to listen to. The first movement in particular was performed well overall, especially in the second concert, when I think we peformed it better than in any rehearsal. Which is as it should be.

I am also really pleased to say that our men nailed No 6 "The Lord Hath Commanded". They really did well, and I know this had been particularly difficult for them in rehearsal, requiring a four part split. They did so well in both concerts. Yay us!

The Mendelssohn ends with my favourite of all choral playtimes - a fugue. Yeee haaaaw! I love fugues! Just the way all the lines deviate and fit together and pull apart, then come back together again, translating the melody in different ways and recreating the theme in each choral line. A good fugue is musical magic. I'm not a music theorist, who could no doubt tell you about contrapuntal composition and fugal subjects, and all that highfalutin stuff. Not me. Instead I'll just tell you it was great fun to sing, and I'd love to do it all again today, and tomorrow, and the next day, because fugues are just awesome. Brain food for the soul.


Handel - The King Shall Rejoice

Finally, to end the concert, it was back to Handel with David conducting "The King Shall Rejoice", which includes my favourite movement - No. 2 "Exceeding Glad Shall He Be", which is Handel trying his hand at Bluegrass music. It really is - I'm not joking! My only grumble is I was a little disappointed that of the Coronation Anthems we weren't doing "Zadok The Priest", which is a fabulous piece and a great sing - maybe next time!

The "Alleluia" was our closing movement, and it did stay together, despite worries in rehearsal. All eyes were on the conductor - I was too nervous to even look down on my score in some moments! We followed closely and tightly, and the piece worked. Friends in the audience told me the work was wonderful, and that they enjoyed it thoroughly, as they had enjoyed the works of the other composers.

In conclusion...

Four Important Dead Guys. Four major works. Four anniversaries. Four accolades. We came, we sang, we did them justice. City Choir once again proved that we can take on a huge amount of music and make it work. I think my extra work outside of rehearsal paid off - I know that others in the choir studied the music at home too, and their work paid off too.

Now we have a week of doing nothing. No music for a week, and I'm off on holiday next weekend up to the north island for a few days, for a well-deserved rest.

Next concert isn't until September, with Haydn's Nelson Mass. It seems so long away, but right now all I can think is, Bring it on!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hallelujah Chorus with a difference

Anne Thomson's daughter alerted her to this clip on YouTube. Anne suggests we should try this as an alternative to singing it off by heart at this year's performance. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Snow Day!

We're snowed in, and if you haven't heard, City Choir is cancelled tonight. Whatever shall I do with all my spare time?

Well, I could build another snowperson. The first one didn't look too good:

snow poodle-person

But then, I am an Aussie, so concessions must be made. I'm not used to all this white cold stuff that falls from the sky. Cooking eggs on the footpath - now that I'm an expert at!

Or I could just enjoy the scenery out the window.

snowy view

I see scenes like this, and imagine Father Christmas (he is NOT "Santa Claus" in MY family, thankyou very much!) to come shooting over the top of Stone Street in his sleigh.

Or to at least cruise along Kaikorai Valley Road in a beat-up combi van with snow chains.

beat up combi van

On a more serious note, yes, City Choir is cancelled tonight. Yes, we have a rehearsal on Saturday morning instead, as I've just been informed by email. 10:00 to 12:30. Hmmm...that time slot is starting to feel a bit familiar!

So tonight, I shall grab my copy of Handel and go over "My Heart Is Inditing" for a couple of hours until I nail every last note!

Actually, I'll enjoy some of the gorgeous-smelling homemade shortbread I just baked, play a game or two of Up And Down The Creek Without A Paddle, and have a hot bath with lots of bubbles. Then maybe do a bit of rehearsing if I feel like it.

But if I told you I'm spending all evening rehearsing you wouldn't believe me.

Would you?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Modern translations

Anne Thomson has looked up modern Bible translations of the words of "My Heart is Inditing":

Here are two alternative translations:

New Revised Standard Version:
Psalm 45:1,9,11 (despite the fact that the music says vv 10 and 12)

My heart overflows with a goodly theme;
I address my verses to the king.
Daughters of kings are among your ladies of honour;
at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir
and the king will desire your beauty
Isaiah 49:23
Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your foster mothers.

Or, in the New International Version:

My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king;
Daughters of kings are among your honored women;
at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir.
The king is enthralled by your beauty;
Kings will be your foster fathers,
and their queens your nursing mothers.

So, a little bit clearer? I presume this anthem (of the four) was sung at the point in the coronation when the queen was crowned.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My heart is inditing

At last night's rehearsal Michael introduced us to My heart is inditing, the fourth of the Coronation Anthems by Handel. This is an enjoyable sing, but right away we wondered about this word "inditing". What does it mean?

First, here is the context:

My heart is inditing of good matter
I speak of the things which I have made unto the King
King's daughters were among thy honorable women
Upon thy right hand did stand the Queen in vesture of gold and the King shall have pleasure in thy beauty
Kings shall be thy nursing fathers and queens thy nursing mothers

The word comes from the Middle English word enditen and means to compose, to write, or to say or dictate.

So, perhaps "telling" or "speaking"?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Anniversary Accolades

Purcell, Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn.
Anniversary Accolades - Celebrating Classic Choral Composers
We are already rehearsing for this concert in July and it is going well. Working under David's direction is always fun! Note that all the choir midi learning files for this concert can now be accessed from the links panel on the right.