This video clip crossed my desk earlier this evening and I couldn’t help but smile. Flash mobs are amusing, if becoming a trifle overdone, but this one struck me as I am a big fan of the piece. One of the traditions of the holiday season tend to be concerts of Handel’s Messiah, with its famous “Hallelujah, Chorus.” This was done on November 13 of this year in a mall food court. It’s an extraordinary piece of music and also extraordinary to see people stopping and reveling in the moment.
I’ve heard it live twice. Once in a Christmas concert, where I learned of the tradition of standing for the piece. And the second (and third time, actually) was in the short-lived Broadway production of Coram Boy, which I loved in spite of American critical disinterest (it was an Anglophile’s Dickensian dream). The play had quite a bit of music. So much so that there was a choir on a second level onstage and an orchestra in the pit at the Imperial. Handel was a character and the play climaxed on the premiere of his Messiah. Jan Maxwell and Xanthe Elbrick were Tony-nominated for their brilliant performances. (Melly Still’s production is one of the most breathtaking visual experiences of my theatregoing life).
After the company bow, the familiar strains strck up from the pit and they started singing the famed chorus. The audience had been quite generous with its applause, but it did not lead to a standing ovation. However, I was seated in the front row and was the first person on my feet for the piece, which triggered the rest of the Imperial to do likewise. I shared a moment with a couple of the cast members who smiled at me gratefully. My friend thought it was a cheap way to incite a standing-o. I thought it was just glorious. To each his own. I didn’t need to lead the charge at the closing performance as the audience lept to its feet before the curtain call commenced.
Anyway, as the Christmas season reaches its pinnacle (and since I’m frankly sick to death of Spider-Man reports, though I’m glad to hear Chris Tierney is up and walking around) this video just felt appropriate. Enjoy.