From our December 15th, 2014 collaboration with the choir at FBC Newton
Do you hear what I hear? We may all know the Sunday-school Christmas story, but have we really heard its message for us today? This is the question we ask as we engage our texts through very special music this morning: Vivaldi’s regal Gloria (1716) and Handel’s magnificent Messiah (1742). How can Vivaldi’s sacred music and Handel’s robust story-telling open our hearts’ ear to the cataclysmic significance of the first Adventus (‘coming’) of Christ, as Jesus - God with skin - breaks into our dark and dreary world?
George Frideric Handel was a master storyteller. He devoted the biggest part of his professional life to telling stories. His musical story telling was first done principally through his operas. Handel’s 42 operas were the 18th-century equivalent of the Oscar-winning blockbuster: thrilling action, heart-wrenching drama, and high-profile divas to boot.
But is the role of the composer to merely entertain? Towards his later years, Handel’s compositional output made a significant shift toward the church. He sought to not simply entertain the heart, but to teach the mind and draw the soul to worship. Handel’s 29 oratorios, opera’s sacred counterpart, and a story-telling genre at its core (think ‘orator’), illustrate biblical stories to a largely illiterate population in a way that had never been heard before.
In the oratorio, Handel was able to fuse his mastery of the operatic form with vivid text painting from the Renaissance madrigal for the edification of the church. It was for the church that Handel could tell the ultimate story of heart-wrenching drama and thrilling action: the Gospel story of Jesus’ life for the whole world. Handel says to us: “Do you hear what I hear?”
Vivaldi divides the text of his Gloria into separate movements, infusing this liturgical text (i.e. a sacred text regularly used by worshippers) with a narrative quality. Text is painted through voices and instruments to highlight the meaning. When we sing “Gloria!,” the music is bright, brilliant, and … glorious!
We are delighted to share this music with a superb orchestra of our friends and colleagues, and the combined choirs of First Baptist Church in Newton and TCC Wayland. For rides, rehearsals, snow shoveling, and so much more, a hearty thank you to all who helped make this Sunday possible!
Soli Deo Gloria.
– Rachel Carpentier (FBC) and Adam Kurihara (TCC)
Young Sin Choi
Rafael Horowitz Friedman
Loading more stuff…
Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?