Having volunteered to help swell the ranks of the overworked choir for Easter, I suddenly find that I have one week to learn the alto line of the Hallelujah Chorus. I take it that everyone else has had a bit more time to learn, but as a latecomer I get two full practices (one of which was last night -- sightreading Handel's polyphony is very tricky, let me say) and a score to take home. I'm relying on the piano and the choir on my "Selections from Handel's Messiah" cd to get me up to speed fast.
The Hallelujah Chorus is one of those cultural chestnuts -- everyone knows the basic melody because it crops up in movies, commercials, and in the mall blaring at grumpy holiday shoppers. It's a shame that's it's become so ubiquitous as to be dismissable. Handel's intricate vocal weaving is sheer harmonic genius, and the wonder of it is that his music still sounds marvelous when sung by an amateur choir in rehearsals.
It will sound even better when I can nail that funky bit coming in right after the sopranos sing, "For the Lord God omnipotent".