Sunday, December 19, 2004


Here is the New York Times review of the Westminster Symphonic Choir's Messiah with the New York Philharmonic.

My own notes may be forthcoming. :) For now, suffice to say that I will always remember the second oboe telling us a joke every night. And that it is very convenient to sit two feet away from the second oboe when half the time he's doubling your part!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Readings and Carols

Tonight (and last night) was Readings and Carols at the Princeton University Chapel, featuring just about every choir on campus (except, of course, Jubilee and Westminster Choir, b/c that would have given me something to actually do. :) Symphonic, Chapel Choir, Kantorei, Williamson Voices, and the Concert Bell Choir all performed, and while I had expected it to be something of an ordeal, and to get a little overly-Godded (more on that later) I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. Symphonic just sang the carols, so I didn't have a lot to do, but there was some great stuff performed. The Handbell Choir was really neat. There was a great piece by William Caldwell, whom I shall have to go and look up, a great piece by Gretchaninoff which was done really well by the freshman choir, and an excellent reading of O. Henry's Gift of the Magi by one of the drama teachers. A nice piece by my composition teacher SY too - I was happy to hear something he's written!

Afterwards I ended up at Burger King with AD and A (whose last name I don't know.) We ended up getting onto the topic of religion, which I'm always happy to do. It was really excellent, and I hope to have some more like conversations with them both. A is a devout Catholic, of the best possible sort. I really feel that her faith has a huge positive effect in her life, and as a result, in the lives of people around her. For example, the church she work at is currently experiencing a racial split - Hispanic vs. white. She's working to bring the two sides together, and recently experienced a victory when she got the two different youth groups to meet together for the first time. I think she gets involved in lots of open-minded religious conversations, too - she certainly has with me. Because of our current political situation, I can feel myself often becoming alienated and angry with many Christians, and unfortunately (and not justifiably) by extension with Christianity, and it's comforting to know Christians who agree with what I think Christianity ought to be (even though I'm not one.) For example, uniting instead of dividing, accepting, non-judgmental, more concerned with doing good than telling others that they're doing bad, emphasizing love instead of hate, etc.

I mentioned to her at the end that we should keep having this conversation, because I need to come to terms with Christianity. Before moving here I would have said I had, but that's just because I never interacted with it. Because of the profession I've chosen, because so much choral music is religious, I'm going to have some sort of relationship with the concepts of Christ and God for the rest of my life, and much of this semester I've been trying to hash that out. Music is such an eloquent and powerful medium for praise. And it's not the belief in God that I have trouble dealing with. I've mentioned to a couple of people that the only time I actually believe in God is when I'm singing. When I say "Kyrie eleison" it's not just acting, it's something else that stops when the music does. It's all the other parts of the religion I have problems with, like the whole sin thing. And, quite removed from the question of doctrine, when I'm not a Christian myself, it is hard to keep in mind the idealized version of what I believe one should be when so many hateful, close-minded people are constantly trumpeting their "Christianity" in the media.

I feel this entry could be more clearly written, but it's late, and I don't wish to edit it. Besides, I've been promising myself all day that if I did my homework then when I got home from the concert I could watch A&E Jane Austin adaptations on TV and munch on cheese, so that's what I'm going to go do.