Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Family Traditions

We had a wonderful Easter yesterday as we gathered with family, thanks to Peter & Leigh-Ann, who graciously opened their home to us all.  Most of those in attendance were Uncle Peter's posterity - in fact all of their chilren were there to help celebrate Aunt Melody's attaining the milestone of 60 years.  It is a bit amazing that we will be facing the same milestone in just a few months.  What a blessing it has been over the years to have our two families so close - geographically - and then growing together in other ways as well.  Getting together for good food and great company at holiday times has long been a joint tradition of our families.  Other traditions that I have developed in preparation for each Easter is to (1) watch Ben Hur, and (2) listen to Handel's Messiah as many times as I can during the preceding week, and then at least once during the day.  Although I did not do the first one (yet), I did follow through on the second.  What a great piece of work.  Mack Wilberg quoted someone as saying that it is not so much an oratorio as a collection of scriptures set to music.  What can bring us closer to God than listening to His word set to good music?

It is a shame that most people only associate the Messiah with Christmas as only one of the three parts of Handel's Messiah is associated with scriptures announcing the birth of the Savior.  And although a great piece of music, the Hallelujah chorus is actually not my favorite part of the Messiah.  And it does not come at the end of the production, but at the end of the second part.  If pressed, I think my favorite piece from Handel's Messiah is the aria, I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.  When well-performed it is probably as close as I will ever get to hearing an angel's voice.  But a very close second is the final chorus, Worthy Is The Lamb That Was Slain.

What a pleasant surprise I had this morning as I found that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square are in the process of recording for release a new rendition of Handel's Messiah.  Apparently in preparation for the recording next month they have given/are giving a couple of presentations in the Tabernacle.  In an interview with Mack Wilberg he indicated that he was surprised that they sold out (in 7 minutes, as it turns out).  What a special treat for this Easter!  So here I am listening to it and enjoying every moment.  Bro. Wilberg explains that he tried to present it with, as much as possible given that he has a choir of 300+ voices and a rather large orchestra, an 18th century flavor (it was written in 1741) in a baroque style.  So just to whet your appetite, here is the MTC signing the final chorus, masterfully, as always.

I'm off to watch Ben Hur.

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