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December 17, 2007

Found myself driving to the tiny hamlet of Point Reyes Station in the rain yesterday afternoon to play oboe in the community sing-a-long Messiah. When the organizer of the event, Carol Negro, called me up on Thursday afternoon to offer me the gig, I couldn't resist. It sounded like the perfect way for someone who hates Christmas as much as I do to get her kicks.

There's something so festive about a group of people standing around in a drafty, fairy-light and tinsel-strewn community center at the far end of the world mangling Handel. And boy did we make a mess of it. With no rehearsal and some very badly-xeroxed parts, the instrumental ensemble (which in this case consisted of a piano, 2 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, a double-bass, 1 flute and yours truly on the oboe) hacked, scraped and otherwise bumbled its way through the piece. At about three hours in length, The Messiah is a particularly grueling blow for wind instruments. I hardly had any lip left by the end. The soloists were warbly (soprano) and bellicose (tenor and bass). The tenor in particular seemed to have something stuck in his throat that made him growl like a bass in his lower registers. There was no alto soloist, so, to the delight of all present, the alto section of the chorus got the chance to take a crack at all those melismas. What a racket!

Nevertheless, I had such a good time playing and singing with this group. (I even made a bit of money. Always run when a hobby starts becoming a cash-generating endeavor.) 'Tis the season.


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