Carnegie Hall and Scratch Messiahs

I wish I could play Rachmaninoff. Sometimes I hold concerts at Carnegie Hall in my mind. There’s a concert grand piano and there’s me. A deep purple dress I think, with a sequined hem and a jeweled headband crowning a messy up do. After Rachmaninoff’s prelude in G Minor, we take a step back from intensity into nostalgia with Schumann’s Traumerei.

As the night wears on, Chopin’s Nocturne in Eb Major floats on the airwaves and lingers just long enough to welcome Haydn’s Sonata in C major. And just when couldn’t get any better, the concert reaches a final number: an original piece that- I mean since we’ve gotten this far already- Itzhak Perlman himself and I co-wrote as a piano and violin duet. The crowd goes insane and the music lingers in the air, swirling from person to person and heart to heart; igniting excitement in the listeners for the art of finding joy in the every day and giving it voice and free expression through music.

Oh my gosh if only I could perform such a night, or create like Sondheim, Rogers and Hammerstein, Bach or Handel. I wonder if Handel knew how many souls he would touch, how many heart strings would leap for joy when he wrote Messiah.

On Sunday night, that number was easily in the thousands. In England, when people would get together to sing through Handel’s Messiah, the events were known as scratch Messiahs- singers who’d never rehearsed together sight reading together and singing from scratch. Here we call them Messiah singalongs.

On Sunday night, every pew of Roswell United Methodist Church was filled with Sopranos, Altos, Tenors and Basses- each cradling a piece of history in the form of gently but very well loved Messiah scores.

The organ swelled with cadence after cadence and singers from all over the city lifted voices that perfectly blended in song to proclaim the glory of the Lord, the mighty God, the everlasting father, the Prince of Peace.

Each listener stood in awe as the last Hallelujah echoed in their ears and one man’s artistry in finding the joy in the birth of our Lord found a thousand voices and free expression through music. And the glory of The Lord was revealed and we each went back to our homes with a song on our lips and Messiah in our hearts.


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