Several weeks ago, when driving past St Thomas Episcopal Church (a drive I have made hundreds of times in the past 30 plus years) I noticed a sign advertising the upcoming performance of Handel's Messiah on Sunday, December 17th. Upon arriving home I mentioned it to my husband, and we both immediately agreed we should purchase tickets, so we did!
The concert was this past Sunday, and what an experience it proved to be! Inspiring, melodic, joyous, heart tingling, smile-producing, head nodding, body wanting to sway…this production mesmerized us from the very first notes, all played on period instruments, including "a large, French 18th century style double-manual concert harpsichord" that Eric J Milnes, music director for the Church, is hoping to purchase for the Church.
Solos were sung by eight professional singers, with the very able Choir of St Thomas Church providing the Ensemble. In scanning the list of choir members I was struck by one name in particular, Rachel Duval. How many singers could there be with that name? And why did it even matter? Well, the Rachel Duval I know of is married to the head of the lower school where I teach, and yup, as soon as the Ensemble walked to their spots I knew it was, indeed, her!
The music was played by the Ensemble L'harmonie des Saisons, a Period Instrument Orchestra that hails from Canada. Alas, I do not know which baroque violin playing member of the Ensemble had the solos, but her playing was inspired. And I smiled profusely to watch Danny Mallon contort his body to have a line of sight to the conductor so he would know when to play his baroque tympani in the last portions of the performance.
My husband stated "they did a spectacular job" with the performance, and he is not given to superlatives! There was something magical about Sunday's performance. Walking to the Church, a mile and a half from our home, taking in the winter's air and not driving all added to our delight. Upon returning home I sent an email to the head of the lower school sharing our experience and asking that he share our message with Rachel. The next morning he replied that his wife "came home last [night] beaming about the performance being one of the most powerful musical experiences that she has had in recent years." So it was, for us as well!
Below are pictures from most of the paper program, added here as a memory inducer for when we look back on this post in year's to come.