In a way, Handel’s Messiah is a very big part of what I understand about Christmas. I’d seen and heard it long before being a person of faith was something I had to think about and wrestle with, long before I was active in college Christian fellowships or went to Divinity School. It’s one of those things that just sort of centers me in the possibilities of what the season celebrates. John Milton’s “Nativity Ode” does a similar thing. But when my friend Joe sent me this link, I assumed the “Hallelujah” in question was going to be Leonard Cohen’s (which, incidentally, is a very big part of how I think about wrestling with belief).
This video is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while. Thanks, Joe!
From the organizers:
http://www.operaphila.org/facebook — On Saturday, October 30, 2010, the Opera Company of Philadelphia brought together over 650 choristers from 28 participating organizations to perform one of the Knight Foundation’s “Random Acts of Culture” at Macy’s in Center City Philadelphia. Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ – the world’s largest pipe organ – the OCP Chorus and throngs of singers from the community infiltrated the store as shoppers, and burst into a pop-up rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s “Messiah” at 12 noon, to the delight of surprised shoppers. This event is one of 1,000 “Random Acts of Culture” to be funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation over the next three years. The initiative transports the classical arts out of the concert halls and opera houses and into our communities to enrich our everyday lives. To learn more about this program and view more events, visit http://www.randomactsofculture.org. The Opera Company thanks Macy’s and the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ (http://www.wanamakerorgan.com) for their partnership, as well as Organ Music Director Peter Conte and Fred Haas, accompanists; OCP Chorus Master Elizabeth Braden, conductor; and Sound Engineer James R. Stemke. For a complete list of participating choirs and more information, visithttp://www.operaphila.org/RAC. This event was planned to coincide with the first day of National Opera Week.