Monday, December 2, 2013


I want to say that everyone has them but I think Bryan might disagree with me. He doesn't really care about traditions. He'd likely say that we traditionalists are the ones that are in the minority. I think he's wrong. Especially at Christmastime. Traditions all over the place. Family traditions. Neighborhood and community traditions. Even state traditions (for example...what is Christmas in Utah without The Festival of Trees, lights at Temple Square, "Forgotten Carols" and Kurt Bestor Christmas concerts?) But there are a few Christmas traditions that tend to reach beyond the local, beyond even the national sometimes. And I got to experience a couple of those this year.

We have a very good and well respected ballet school here in our hometown, and they perform The Nutcracker every year up at Weber State University. A live orchestra and principles from Ballet West make the whole production even more impressive. We get tickets every year because we like to support Julianne's friends and other girls from the neighborhood who participate. But when that iconic music starts and the curtain rises...I get goosebumps. And I think that even if we didn't know a single dancer up on stage, I'd still go.

This year my mom, my sister Melissa, and I had the opportunity attend and participate in the Utah Symphony's Messiah Sing-In. My mom has been singing The Messiah for years and knows it well. Melissa and I many years ago sang a couple of Christmas seasons worth of a traditional/gospel Messiah mix performance at the Grand Theatre so we were familiar with a few of the choruses as well. But this was the first time we'd ever been to the annual Utah Symphony's big to-do. So for those who are not familiar with how this whole Messiah thing works, here's a brief synopsis....
1. The Messiah is way too long to do in one sitting. Well, you could certainly. But it would be a much longer evening than is generally acceptable so the director picks which solos and choruses will be done, with the popular traditional choruses like "For Unto Us" and "Hallelujah Chorus" being a given.
2. The Symphony plays the whole thing, obviously.
3. They have four soloists...soprano, alto, tenor, bass.
4. In this case they also had the Utah Symphony Chorus to sing along with us on the choruses....presumably to buoy up the singers in the audience in case we botch our notes.
5. And we in the audience follow along in the program as to which song comes next and then follow along in our Messiah scores. (As a general rule, if you want to sing you bring your own music.)
6. Then when a chorus comes up, anyone wanting to "sing-in" stands up and goes for it.

It's such amazing fun! But also quite a spiritual experience if you really pay attention to the words being sung. And when we sang the Hallelujah Chorus it was such an incredibly joyful experience. Which is of course what the song is all about...singing joy. The Hallelujah Chorus is actually in the middle of The Messiah, so I was really glad that for an encore we got to do it again....

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