Friday, December 23, 2005

2005 Do-It-Yourself Messiah!

A highlight of our year, LaSalle Bank's annual Do-It-Yourself Messiah on Tuesday, December 20, was again a wonderful evening!

Every year has it's own uniqueness that makes it especially memorable. Perhaps the most "memorable" unique item this year was the time Maestro Sperber spent, um, warming up the crowd, by waxing eloquent on baseball, the Chicago White Sox, the Messiah and the various connections between them all. And, as a vocal "warm-up" we sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Perhaps the White Sox did win the World Series this year, but I think most of the crowd sang, "Root for the Cubbies..." I'm not sure, but I don't think that song has ever been sung at the Opera House before.

Anyway, we finally did get down to the music we all came to sing and it was glorious! All four of this year's soloists were new ones - and for the most part were very good! I think everyone in our group agreed that although the Counter Tenor had a fabulous voice, we'd prefer if the part was sung by an Alto. It's just very odd to see this little guy standing up there singing with a woman's voice... The soprano was young but had a good voice, the baritone got lost once (but recovered well!), and, for the first time in years, we had no complaints about the tenor! :) There was a press for the seats beyond the typical rush, and we almost ended up sitting in the third balcony, but by dividing into many smaller groups and mingling with the Sopranos (who had extra seats) we were able to find a few seats here and there and get most of us sitting directly in front of the stage - for which we were very thankful. It is an incredible experience to have nearly 3000 people sitting behind you singing! Every year we learn our parts better, and every year the strength of the message written in Handel's Messiah impacts us again, and our hearts cry out with our voices as we sing the final Amens!

Like any concert, pictures are not allowed during the performance, so most of our pics are of the fun before and after.

Nathan & Jeanine came to our house early and rode the train down with us, although Corrine prevented them from attending the Messiah. They toured Chicago for awhile and then took the train back home.
Of course, the great question every year is "Will we make the train?" Thankfully, we did once again arrive in time to catch our train - and didn't even have to stand outside waiting for too long this year... long enough to be chilly, though!
Once aboard, the train ride is a lot of fun - and some of us get rather comfortable!

Our group numbered nearly 80 this time, and we had an entire train car (both sides) reserved for us. We sang, ate, talked...

Every year the famous "bucket guy" sits on the bridge that crosses the Chicago River between the train station and the opera house in Chicago. This year he had a cymbal added to his set and once again sang the same exact song - the same exact part of a song, rather - and shouted out the same lines as always!

Taking pictures inside the opera house is a bit of a challenge as the lighting isn't the greatest for photography - and obviously there are limits on when you can take photos. Not sure why the picture above turned out so blue, but here are a few of the Altos from our group!

After the "Messiah" was finished, we had some time before our train left and we got this group picture on the grand staircase. Say, if any of you others who had camera's flashing there got a better shot, could you send us a copy?

As we did have an hour to spare before our train left Chicago, we took a midnight stroll around the city.

Thankfully it was a mild evening as our Californian guests were being introduced to winter weather...

Ah, the train ride home. Definitely memorable. The young men found their way to the upper level of the train and serenaded the rest of us with songs of Christmas, songs from Broadway, folk songs, patriotic songs, you-name-it songs.

Our train got back to the Crystal Lake station around 1:00am, after which we had about a half-hour drive home. However, despite the early hour, few of our crowd (we had the Servens, and various members of the Moellers, Beattys, and Fowlks families spending the night with us) were ready to hop into bed upon arriving home. In fact, some (namely, the young gentlemen among us) found themselves desirous of a reprise of dinner. Thus, out came the spread. Including lasagne, meatballs, cheese and crackers, carrot cake, brownies, nuts, cookies, tea, and more! Talk and laughter continued for another hour or so before our home began to quiet down.

Ah, yes. Once again, memories were made, laughter shared, relationships built, and our Savior's name praised! Hallelujah!

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