12.21.2010

Christmas Offering 4: Handel/Greek Orthodox Icon



Picture
Greek Orthodox Icon


Messiah, Part 1
George Frederick Handel
1742
Iconic. It's a clever twist of fate that George's name in German means "trade" or "transaction". Already the savvy businessman in London in the 1700s, his Messiah has definitely established itself as the trademark "classical" piece of the Christmas season in our own day and age. (Although, as the purist flies, the Hallelujah Chorus belongs to the Easter Season.) I feel as though there isn't a lot to say about this piece. It's tones are an instant association of mine to Christmas (and to sight reading the Overture with Uncle Charlie in Oxnard... probably at Christmas.) It is rightly popular. Listen to it and sing in flash choirs of it often.

Iconic. Literally. Christianity's history of illustrative worship is as complicated and upsetting as its history of musical worship. Both can be powerfully used and misused. I picked this icon because of its plethora of pictures and themes. It reminds me of the texts and textures of Handel's oratorio (Old Testament/New Testament, aria, recitative, chorus). I also like how Mary is lounging on the stump of a Sequoia tree.

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