Thursday, December 26, 2013

BHSO 'Sing-Messiah!' in Review

The audience sang! and not just a few individuals either. the chorus in the audience was just as strong as the one on stage, even if not so organised.

And really this just about sums up the success of this do-it-yourself concert: the applause and standing ovation at the end was as much a reward for the performers as it was for ourselves for joining in. Suffice to say that I had a blast. 

The atmosphere was generally relaxed, starting off with a humorous spoken introduction by conductor Adrian Tan, the music that followed also had a generally relaxed tempo, easier for audiences to follow in the choruses perhaps, but also for the overture and arias as well. Only 90 minutes of the piece was featured, with much of Act 2 and repeats of arias left out. 

All in all, the sum of this event is greater than its parts. Sure there were many flaws in the performance; the brasses could have better intonation, and much of the first part dragged a little, lacking that baroque rhythmic 'bounce', a soloist had difficulty with high notes, and the chorus could really sing out more. But really all that mattered was that the crowd got to take part in the action, and that everyone had fun doing it (and to be fair I was really too busy sight-singing to listen properly).

The four local soloists, all trained in the UK, had a distinctly commonwealth style in their singing, had good understanding of the British oratorio tradition and appropriate baroque style. this is the best singing I've heard from Ee-Ping, the voice was bright and clear while still retaining its unique creamy colours, the coloratura passages of Rejoice Greatly were tossed off with ease. It's been years since I last heard Rebecca Chellappah; she sang the mezzo parts with much charisma and grace.

In all I would rank this as still an amateur level concert, but a first rate attempt at interactive concerts. As an encore, a medley of popular Christmas carols gave us another fun-filled session before sending us on our way. If this is meant to be the start of an annual Messiah-Singalong tradition and Maestro Tan promised, I say bring it on!

(P.S I totally nailed the runs in For Unto Us a Child is Born!)

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