It’s hard to believe we are in the last phase of preparing the two major works for our upcoming Händel and Haydn Festival. Performing works from the Baroque Period is part of the DNA of the Bay Choral Guild—a core part of our repertoire since our founding 40 years ago as the Baroque Choral Guild. As we near concert week, our excitement is mounting. We’re still polishing, but we hear each piece developing and rehearsals become even more enjoyable. As for numerous concerts in the past, we will be joined by players from the Jubilate Baroque Orchestra.
To prepare us to perform at a half-step lower pitch—the practice in the Baroque period—accompaniment for our weekly rehearsals has been on a modern electronic keyboard with variable pitch. Pianos don’t take well to such retuning! And, in further pursuit of an historically informed performance (i.e., to be really “HIP”), we are shaving 1/8 and even 1/16 notes off the ends of phrases so that we and the instruments end notes at precisely the same time. Period instruments have a shorter sound decay time than their modern counterparts. Small details, perhaps, but listeners will hear the clarity of sound and the sparkle this care produces—even if they aren’t aware of the cause.
We’re eagerly anticipating the first dress rehearsal when we'll hear the Lord Nelson Mass and the Te Deum with the accompaniment of eighteen of the nation's best period instrument players from Jubilate Baroque Orchestra and hear the wonderful soloists who will be joining us. The chorus works hard to sing well and maintain our focus, but we, like our audiences, get to enjoy every moment of each piece—the choral movements and solos, the trumpets, strings, winds, and harpsichord. That’s the inherent joy of music—that while we perform it, we also hear it and feel it. And, while it might seem strange to want to hear any concert five times in one week, we will do that in the course of two dress rehearsals and three performances. We feel very, very fortunate. Thirty-some years ago, when I joined BCG, at the end of our two performances I would be left wishing that we could do it one more time! Now we perform each concert three times.
Come share the joy with us in at least one of the Händel and Haydn Festival performances. Choose the venue nearest you, or one you’ve never been to, or the date and time that fits your schedule. But don’t miss it! This is going to be a wonderful concert. And sometime, when you are able, don’t just come to our concerts once. Attend more than one performance of the same concert. You’ll hear differences in each location due to different acoustical and visual environments. You’ll hear and see why we love singing and sharing our music with you!