An Extraordinary Experience

MOS just completed its third Messiah Sing-Along and it was for me an extraordinary experience.  What made it extraordinary was the level of involvement I sensed from the singers in the room (and essentially everyone in the room that day was a singer!).  Looking out at 650 smiling people and knowing that these folks had gathered for the express purpose of singing one of our great pieces of choral literature was a thrill.  All of us involved in choral music understand how satisfying it is to sing for others.  Still, I believe that to sing with others is even more satisfying, and it is indeed rare when we have the opportunity to sing with 650 people!


For those of you in attendance, how did the afternoon feel to you?   Did you also feel the level of anticipation in the room that I felt?  Was it fun singing with so many people?  What other Messiah Sing-Along experiences have you had over the years and what do you remember most from them? 


Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! 

Showing 5 comments
  • Ken Kurtz

    There were two women sitting in the second row of the tenor section (I was sitting in front of them in the first row) that made the afternoon for me. I don’t want to give short shrift to the Riverside Chamber Players (they were wonderful, and I enjoyed them immensely), the beautiful solo work by our very own (which I also greatly appreciated), or to Tom’s always outstanding musicianship… but these two women ratcheted up my overall appreciation of the afternoon.

    I’m not sure I heard a note sung by either one of them throughout the 80 minute performance… but they were both holding scores, and they both giggled like schoolgirls EVERY time that Michael turned away from the stage with that big smile on his face to get the choir of 650 to stand. They were joyous giggles of anticipation of being a part of, and they were music to my ears.

  • Mike Hartley


    Messiah is very special to me, as I’m sure it is to many singers. I was introduced to Messiah at age 12, when my parents bought a recording of it to play during the Christmas holidays. I immediately fell in love with the work. I was especially thrilled when my grandfather dug out his old beat up Schirmer score and gave it to me so I could follow along while listening. The following summer, I started taking voice lessons so I could learn to sing some of the bass solos.

    My first Messiah singalong (circa 1976) was memorable in that it was my first opportunity to sing for Robert Shaw. I grew up listening to all the Shaw Chorale recordings at Christmastime, and to me, Shaw WAS Christmas. I went with a busload of singers from my hometown Methodist church choir over to Cincinnati to join with an auditorium full of people who came to see Mr. Shaw and sing the choruses. Like any other “cast of thousands” event, it was mostly memorable for being there rather than for the qulaity of the music.

    Years later, after moving to the Atlanta area from Indiana, I went to a second Messiah singalong, this time at the Roswell United Methodist Church, directed by John Haberlen. I enjoyed the afternoon, but didn’t realize this was a recruitment event. RUMC had just built a new sanctuary and was looking for new people to fill its choir loft. Since our family had not yet found a church home, and in an effort to stop the harrassing phone calls, I gave the RUMC choir a try. That was 20 years ago, and the rest is history. Had it not been for this Messiah singalong, we might not have found RUMC, and I may not have had the pleasure all these years of singing with MOS and MOCS.

    This year was the fourth Messiah singalong I have had the good fortune to participate in, and probably musically the highest quality of the four. I almost felt guilty that I didn’t have to pay to participate. I enjoyed last year’s singalong so much, I was thrilled that you programmed another one this season. It would be wonderful to make this an annual event, to give to our community, and maybe attract some new singers into our midst, as I was years ago.

    Happy Holidays,

  • Olga Espinola

    Firstly, in response to the comment made by Clay Hales …

    What a beautifully worded expression of what music is all about! We experienced a touch of that transcendance during the Messiah sing-along. I have performed the full work numerous times over the years. I went into this – as I did last year – feeling cheated knowing that we were going to sing only part of it. But having audience around me singing along, expressing their thrill at the end of each chorus they sang with us, made the difference. I couldn’t see their faces, but their joy was tangible and profound – just as Michael said it would be!

    There is nothing like a live performance, wherever you fit into that space. Those who are actively performing and those who are actively listening can be equally engaged and transported to that higher place where peace and harmony and the communion of souls takes place.

    Thank you, Michael, for helping to guide us there.

  • Helen Schwake

    I didn’t have the opportunity to participate with MOS this year, but I did last year. My most memorable Messiah sing-along was in London at the Royal Albert Hall. As a child growing up in England we watched Last Night of the Proms (recorded in the Albert Hall) on television every year, and enjoyed the occasional trip to see a concert there, always with tickets “in the Gods” (way up in the ceiling; the cheapest tickets where you sit on the floor in a viewing gallery). To then be able to join thousands of other singers from around the country in this incredible venue was a quite amazing experience. BUT, years later singing the same timeless work with MOS and friends, it still evoked the same feeling of being a part of something much greater than any individual. What a gift to humanity, to leave a work of such magnitude that it is shared around the world, centuries later, and still has such a profound effect on both those who perform and those who listen. Thank you Michael and please do this again next year!

  • Michael

    There certainly will be a Messiah Sing-Along during the 2009-2010 Season. It will occur on Sunday, December 20, at 3 PM. I hope you’ll be there!

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