For many years, my church sponsored an annual performance of Handel’s Messiah (around Thanksgiving) at our world headquarters at the Community of Christ Auditorium in Independence, Missouri. It was accompanied by an orchestra composed of professional musicians who were hired as well as church member professional musicians. The organ (a marvelous Aeolian-Skinner) and the harpsichord were both used as well…and I used to think it would be so much fun to be able to play one or the other of those parts, especially during the years I served as rehearsal accompanist.
However, it wasn’t to be.
Instead, I became the house sound manager–helping to regulate the balance between the choir, harpsichord, and soloists. It was fun…and I did it for many years, including through the first years of our collaboration with the Kansas City Symphony and Kansas City Symphony Chorus, with the performances still at the Auditorium.
Last year the performances moved to the new Kauffman Center in Kansas City. It’s a beautiful new building with marvelous acoustics.
Rehearsals are still primarily at the Auditorium, and so I’ve continued to have some responsibilities there–but am no longer directly performed with the performances.
Until last Sunday…
I received a phone call, wondering if I’d be available to play a portative organ for the performances this week! The conductor wanted 3 keyboard players–one on the big Casavant to assist the choir, one on harpsichord, and one on the portative, splitting some of the recitatives and arias between the portative and the keyboard.
Big gulp…and then an excited “yes!” I thought I’d be playing maybe half or so of the performance. But at our first rehearsal, I discovered that I would be playing somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of the pieces! Wow!!
We’ve had four rehearsals in two days…first one with the conductor (David Lockington) to basically start the pieces, setting tempos. The second one was the first one the choirs had with the orchestra, so we went through the choruses. The third one was with the soloists…and the last one was the dress rehearsal–the first time we went through the whole oratorio in order.
Now there are three performances–all of them sold out.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a bit nervous. It’s taking a lot of energy–both emotional and physical…and I figure I’ll crash on Monday. I’m trying to make sure I stay rested so that I have the energy to stay on my feet for the playing and that my MS doesn’t create problems. But I’m also excited.
It’s been a dream deferred…but no more. Messiah….here we come!!
Me at the portative organ I was playing (a self-contained portable pipe organ)