Our Messiah performance on Saturday was a success, and heaps of fun if a bit nerve-wracking at times! Willie came along to listen, with Chloe and Celena and two friends. They brought me a bunch of flowers, which was lovely - one's first Messiah is a big deal, after all. ;)

A lot of the choruses rattled along at a cracking pace, which is exhilarating but also scary if you're not totally confident with your part. The period-instrument orchestra was excellent, and added a lot of sparkle and depth to the music. 
I loved Chloe's comment that the choir sounded "tight" - coming from a rock musician, that's a great compliment.

Here's one of my favourite choruses, the final "Worthy is the Lamb" and "Amen". These guys take it slower than we did, but it still sounds fantastic...

I'm nearly ready for Christmas! Jam Drops, Salted Toffee Almonds, and the all-important Pavlova have been baked. My mini-solo for Christmas morning choir has been practised (a verse of a carol called "Past three o'clock"). Tonight we'll wrap presents and put up a few decorations. And tomorrow afternoon, we'll go to Chloe and Celena's house for an "Orphan Christmas" featuring a vast vegetarian feast, cocktails, a performance by Booty Pageant, and a Slip 'n' Slide. ;)

Merry Christmas all!

A bounty of books

A few exciting packages have arrived lately, because I've been buying books!

I ordered a shiny new copy of June Hemmons Hiatt's The Principles of Knitting, which I've been hankering after for ages. It's very in-depth, and will obviously take me quite a while to absorb. I really like having actual reference books around! The internet is a fount of all knowledge, yes, but often I just want to grab a familiar book when I need information on a technique...

Suitably attired!

I also found these second-hand knitting books going cheap on Ebay: Montse Stanley's Knitting Your Own Designs for a Perfect Fit, and Barbara Walker's Charted Knitting Designs. I have plenty to learn about garment construction, and I find stitch patterns endlessly fascinating. I'm still on the lookout for Barbara Walker's other stitch dictionaries.

They're older books, but most of the information is still useful and current.
I want to learn more about knitted garment construction as I think I might like to try designing a sweater sometime. And in the meantime, I'll be better equipped to tweak other people's designs fit me properly. :)

A peek inside...

And last but not least, I ordered my own score of Handel's Messiah. I've joined a new choir (at the Scots' Church in the central city), and we'll be performing it this December. The new choir is going well so far - there are plenty of good singers, and we've done some interesting music. I feel like I'm diving into the 'other half' of the choral repertoire, i.e. the Protestant side of things. Good thing I like Bach. ;)

I think I'm the only choir-geek in the English-speaking world who's never been in a Messiah performance, so this will be interesting! I know two of the choruses already (and the soprano solos of course), so that's a start. I just need this damn cold to go away so I can start learning my parts...

"Hallelujah", etc etc...


I woke up with this in my head this morning.

It's one of my favourite Handel arias - 'Scherza infida' from the opera Ariodante (1735), first performed by Giovanni Carestini. There's a synopsis here (although for some reason it's listed as a tenor aria). As you'd expect from a highly-emotional showpiece aria, it's wonderfully over-the-top! Here Magdalena Kožená acts it beautifully - powerfully expressive yet understated in terms of embellishments. I definitely have a bit of a vocal crush on her...

There are some free scores here, but I'm not thrilled with them. I think another trip to the State Library is in order.

Here's another take on the same aria, by Philippe Jaroussky. I love what he does with the second half! I think the key with singing this sort of music is to take things almost too far, whichever approach you choose. ;)

Singing at St Mary's

I'm a member of the St Mary of the Angels choir, which is great for my general confidence with singing - performing in public at Mass every week is fantastic for learning to deal with nerves! The choir does lots of Renaissance polyphony, as well as plainchant and various other styles of liturgical music. I've been singing with them for ten years now, and my singing has improved in every respect since I started. Of course, my lessons with the choir director, Robert, have had a lot to do with that.

This Easter my friend Olivia and I sang a Monteverdi duet for two sopranos with two violins accompanying, plus organ and Robert's viola da gamba for the continuo part. Monteverdi is one of my absolute favourite composers, so this was a real treat for me. I've also been learning a solo from Handel's Messiah, which I sang after Mass, once the choir had had our annual Easter treat of singing the Hallelujah Chorus!

My family was in town briefly for a get-together near Wellington, and Dad recorded some of the music. Because we were performing at Mass rather than at a concert, there was a fair amount of background noise (from babies during the duet, and conversations during my after-Mass solo). It's still great to be able to hear how we did. Evidently I need to learn to project my consonants more clearly in such a resonant building. ;)

Our duet (with bonus baby accompaniment):

And my Handel solo is here.