One of my absolute favorite things in the whole world is going to the Lyric Opera House a few weeks before Christmas and singing Handel’s Messiah with 3,000 other people. There’s an orchestra, a conductor, and four soloists on stage, and the auditorium is the choir. We sit according to parts-we sopranos are all on stage right.
The first time I sang a Do It Yourself Messiah was when I was at the U of I. I went with a tenor and a bass, but we split up when we got there. I was so grateful for the woman with the great voice sitting behind me that I could follow.
Then I got to sing with the Southwestern Seminary Chorus in Fort Worth, and we did the Messiah every year. But, I always wanted to have the experience of singing together with an auditorium full of people again. I can’t explain it, but it’s just magic. Every year my mother would send in for free tickets to the Chicago Messiah for me. Mom would watch the newspaper to see what the earliest date was that requests could be postmarked, and she always got the request in that morning, but she could never get me a ticket.
My last year in the States, I was determined to go. I worked up a little speech to use on the ushers: "I’m moving to Africa in a few months, and I’m never ever going to be able to sing Messiah again, and it would mean so much if you would just let me in, and see, I have my own score and it’s even marked where my choir director made comments…". So, off I went to downtown Chicago, armed with a map (this was before Mapquest). Of course I got lost, stuck driving around Lower Wacker Drive, and didn’t get there as early as I wanted to. The lobby was already empty once I finally parked and hustled in, all ready to give my speech, beg, grovel, whatever it took. I went up to an usher, and I’m telling you, it was just like the story of the prodigal son! The usher asked me if I needed a ticket before I even started my speech. She said that there were extra tickets every year. Oh, the missed opportunities to miss a lot of notes!
Well, I can’t sing with everyone in Chicago this year, but yesterday I sang through the whole Messiah along with my CDs while I drove back to the village. I even got to sing with all the soloists. Don’t you love singing in a closed car in the middle of the country where no one can see or hear you?