This post is for my friend Stueve, who loves Christmas music and really wants to listen to it in our shared classroom (it’s really his room, but he lets me feel like I have a say, and for that I am grateful).
Well, Stueve, I’m okay with you listening to it starting tomorrow. Maybe you’ll lead off with this one?
Just because I don’t take lessons anymore doesn’t mean I’ve completely abandoned learning new pieces on my own. I have been playing this one off and on for almost 20 years now. I’ll pick it up occasionally and see what I remember and work out some kinks here and there. But then the choir director will throw something ridiculous at me and Beethoven goes back in my music pantry (yes, I have a music pantry) until I’m feeling appropriately melancholy enough to revisit him. I didn’t look to hard for a recording of the 1st movement to share, but the 2nd is my favorite anyway.
I actually started listening to off-the-beaten-path music in Nebraska. At church I hung out with some alt-rockish types, and the two best Christmas presents I remember getting when I was 15 were U2’s “Rattle and Hum” and REM’s “Green.”
So Montana wasn’t really where my eclectic musical taste was born. It was Omaha. In the house we used to live in, the house my parents still live in. So truth of the matter is, I just could not get enough of this quirky music once I heard it, and in Montana I was lucky enough to find friends who loved that music just as much as I did.
But if I had to pick just one cassette tape (because CDs hadn’t been invented yet) that never left our little Reliant K car, it’s this one. I still can’t hear any of these songs and not think of Montana.
In another lifetime, a boy asked me to go with him to a community choir that was singing Handel’s Messiah. I had done Messiah sing-a-longs in Utah before, but we pretty much just hit the high parts of his work, and I never paid close attention to what I was singing.
This choir gave me the chance to really connect with the text and actually learn how to sing the alto parts on all the songs, instead of just kind of looking around for whatever note I happened to land on, be it alto, tenor, bass, or soprano.
Most everyone is familiar with the Hallelujah chorus, but less familiar with the rest. So here’s my two favorite pieces. The first one I love because it’s an alto solo, which hardly ever happens (skip to 5:00 for the choir to join in). And the second one I love because of the scripture it’s taken from–Isaiah 53:4.