Time to update the iPod last night. Christmas is coming with its excuse to put Handel’s Messiah back for the festive season. I don’t do carols and I abhor that which passes for Xmas music on the local ‘all xmas’ radio station. How many hideous versions of the awful ‘Little Drummer Boy’ can anyone stand without wanting to drive headlong into on-coming traffic? I don’t know how Mrs. B. does it.
But Messiah is a joy as ever and will belt out frequently in the next couple of months.
People have asked me why a lot of my favourite music is ‘religious’ when I’m not religious, Christian or otherwise, by any stretch of the imagination. Truth be told, no god inspires me in anything I do, but if one wants to hear music that is full of joy or awe or any other sort of real emotion then find one of those religious types be it Handel, Bach, Byrd or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and there you go.
It could be argued of course that certainly until the 19th century then the church, or the nobility were where the high dollar commissions came from. But there is more to it than that. The big bucks now come from being on Idol or X-factor and I don’t see a great deal of inspiration or ecstasy there.
And in the UK there has long been a tradition from the 19th through the 20th centuries of Choral Society Christmas productions of Messiah with the Huddersfield Choral being the most famous and its something to be encouraged here too. Now a radio station that played nothing but Messiah from Thanksgiving to Xmas would get my vote.
So here is ‘Ev’ry Valley Shall be Exalted’
Text from the Book of Isaiah. King James version
Mark Padmore with the LSO conducted by Sir Colin Davis