The Joy of December – Part 2 – Handel

Handel in Holy Rosary

On December 13th, I attended the Handel in Holy Rosary concert in Adrian, MI. The concert featured the Adrian Symphony Orchestra, the Adrian College Chamber Choir, and organist Michael Gartz. This was my favorite concert of the season. I admit that I am partial to it since Michael (my teacher) played the pipe organ! As you may have guessed from the title this program included music by George Frederic Handel.

Pipe Organ at the Holy Rosary Chapel Adrian,  MI
Pipe Organ at the Holy Rosary Chapel, Adrian Dominican Motherhouse Campus, Adrian, MI

My parents and I arrived early as the conductor, John Thomas Dodson, gave a talk prior the program. He was very passionate in explaining why he choose the Holy Rosary Chapel. His reason was the size would be closer to the size of venues Handel would have performed in.  Also, when Messiah was performed back in Handel’s day (the 1700’s) there would have been many less performers than many current day performances. For comparison, the UMS Coral Union featured 175 members in the Messiah performance I went to earlier this month. The Adrian College Chamber Choir had 29 singers.

The program began with “Adagio in G Minor for Strings and Organ” by Tomaso Albinoni/Remo Giazotto. A remarkable piece that masterfully interweaves the organ and the strings. It is flowing piece that feels mysterious and beautiful at the same time. This may be due to the slow tempo (Adagio = slow).

The second piece of the evening was “Concerto for Organ and Strings in G minor Op. 4, No. 1“, HWV 289) by George Frederic Handel. Another fantastic and delightful piece with four movements: Larghetto, e staccato, Allegro, Adagio, and Andante. I remember listening to recognize when movements changed. I was pleased when was able to identify the Allegro movement.

After intermission, the orchestra and choir performed the Christmas portion of Messiah (composed by Handel). During the pre-concert introduction, Mr. Dodson explained that several selections may sound faster than what we are accustomed to. He chose to use a recently released version which may a more accurate representation of how the piece was preformed in the 1700’s. In my inexperience I could not quantity the differences. My friend, Carole, who I spoke to afterwards, did indeed notice the quicker tempo. And what a joy to end with the Hallelujah chorus.

The local newspaper wrote two front page articles on the concert. A teaser encouraging people to attend and a review of the Friday night performance. The review article as it includes a wonderful photo of the orchestra and choir with the pipe organ in the background.

Church potluck

On December 15th my church held a potluck in the evening. After the meal we gathered to sing a few Christmas carols. Attendance was light but it was still joyful to gather and raise our voices.

And let us remember the reason for the joy of this holiday season: Jesus. Luke 2:10-11 “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

The Joy of December - Part 1
Making it more complicated than it needs to be - December 2013 Lesson
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Heidi Bender writes about her experiences of learning to play the organ. She started on the adventure in 2009.

She also writes on her website Tons of Thanks, which helps people write thank-you notes. Heidi is also a cat lady who writes at The Joy of Cats.

4 thoughts on “The Joy of December – Part 2 – Handel”

  1. Heidi, this is a perfect write of the evening. We really enjoyed it and it was nice to be there with you.

    Your picture came out nice. Remember I thought people would be in it.

    Keep up your good work and Merry Christmas.


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