Monday, December 25, 2006

Handel's Messiah

One of the Christmas traditions I used to have when I lived in Baltimore was to go to the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah at the Meyerhoff. The conductor, Edward Polochick, would always do a spectacular and fresh job with his interpretation. I will never forget the thrill the first time I heard him present For unto us a Son is Given and the joyous shout of “wonderful” by the choir, or the hushed and somber singing of “and He laid on Him the iniquity of us all” after the frolicking “all we like sheep have gone astray,” or the exhilaration of the final Amen chorus. I have great memories of those concerts.

A few years ago, after moving to the Atlanta area, we went to hear a “Christmas portion” performance by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and chorus, conducted by the great Robert Shaw. He was in his eighties and actually died a few weeks later. I think it was his last performance in Atlanta. I always feel ripped off when they don’t do the whole thing, and to be honest, it wasn’t so great. But it was the Messiah and it was better than nothing.

I have three complete recordings of the Messiah on CD and two on DVD. My favorite, by far, is John Eliot Gardiner’s version with the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Solosts. I prefer period instruments and smaller, more articulate choirs.

For those of you who also enjoy the Messiah, I would like to direct you to the interview Hugh Hewitt did with David Allen White about Messiah. Dr. White teaches at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, another location where I have heard the Messiah performed. I think you will find it fascinating, as I did. You can access the interview here:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3



At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Debbie Vogelsang said...


Hi Andy,

I enjoyed reading parts of your blog - haven't read the whole thing yet. I saw the Messiah performed at the Meyerhoff this year for the first time ever! It WAS wonderful and I can see how you would miss it. The conductor WAS awesome too! He played the harpsichord the entire time he was conducting - I thought that was very unusual besides being extremely difficult. I plan on seeing the Messiah at the Meyerhoff EVERY year from now on - I just didn't know what I was missing.

Debbie Vogelsang

At 7:12 PM, Blogger Andy Efting said...

Hey, Debbie, it's good to heard from you. I think the last time we went to the Messiah at the Meyerhoff was with Bill and Nancy. Sometime we will have to make it up to Baltimore again to take in a performance. Say hi to Dan and Sarah for us.


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