Because of our move abroad, this week will be my last week singing with the Oratorio Society of Utah, a 94-year-old choral organization that performs Handel’s Messiah every year, as well as other choral masterworks.
I have been an assistant director of this choir since 2004, during which time we have sung Handel’s “Messiah”, Haydn’s “Creation”, Mendelssohn’s “Elijah”, Vivaldi’s “Gloria”, and Duruflé’s “Requiem”. It’s been an enjoyable experience, especially since I’ve been able to work with my childhood piano teacher and high school choral director (and good friend), Dr. Morris Lee – an incredible man with a brilliant musical mind, commitment to excellence, and a kind heart. He’s the director of the choir.
Despite coming from a long line of choral directors (my dad and grandpa both taught choir in high school, as well as an uncle), and having sung in choirs all my life, I chose not to go into music as a career, but instead chose to keep it as an active hobby. I did teach piano growing up, and have directed choirs before, but usually among my peers.
Having no formal choral conducting training (except for a week-long workshop I took at the University of Utah a couple years ago), I often felt inadequate in my abilities to lead the choir, and also a little intimidated because the majority of the choir members are more than double my age, and most have more musical experience than I do. Fortunately, they were forgiving, and we got along fine.
I was slightly more comfortable at the piano, but sight-reading Handle and Duruflé isn’t the easiest task either – I did need to practice. Fortunately, I only had to fill in for Holly (our fabulous accompanist) once or twice a season, but that was enjoyable too.
This year, I am also honored in that they are dedicating this year’s performance of the Messiah to me! I was very surprised when I heard this, but honored. There will be a short bio about me in the program as well. How sweet of them!
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the Oratorio Society. It’s been a good experience, and I’ve made some nice friends. I will miss singing such great music with such great people under such great direction. But I will look forward to seeing them successfully go on to their 100th year and beyond.
If you want to come hear our performances of Handel’s Messiah this year, I’d love to see you there. Here are the details:
Saturday, December 12th, 2009, 7:00pmCottonwood Presbyterian Church 1580 East Vine Street Salt Lake City, UT Tickets: $5
Sunday, December 13, 2009, 7:00pmLibby Gardner Hall, University of Utah campus 1375 East Presidents Circle Salt Lake City, UT Tickets: $10
Tickets can be purchased at the door.[Also, notice that I added a “Music” tab to the top of this website. I put my hymn arrangements and sheet music there for free download. I hope to put up more in the future.]
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I really enjoyed reading your post will bookmark this blog.
I wish I were going to be in town to attend. I have great memories of singing the Messiah, of my time on the Board of Directors for the Oratorio Society (and having it out with Richard Horak on more than one occasion, LOL) , and especially the Caribbean Cruise in 1990. I also have very fond memories of Dr. Morris Lee, who was also MY high school choral teacher. Please say hello to him (and Linda) for me : )
Good luck with the performance – I know you’ll do great!
(And I’m ever so grateful you took the non-musical career path…. but have stayed actively involved in using your talents)
Justin and I are planning to attend on Sunday :) (Unless he works- in which case I will be the only one representing our little family).
I’m excited to see it! Good luck :)
I am excited to come see it on Saturday. :) I’ve really enjoyed it when I’ve come in years past. It’s great to hear the Christmas message set to such beautiful and inspired music and performed very well. What an honor that they are dedicating the performance to you this year. They really are very sweet.
Hi Brandon–your experiences in Costa Rica are fascinating–I read a few of them.
I had no idea you were singing with this group, let alone assistant directing! Very cool. It would have been nice to come see you in action sometime or to do a clinic with the group while I was visiting Utah.
Keep me posted, glad to hear things seem to be going well so far there in Costa Rica.