Nothing is more exhilarating than ending a day’s work with a gorgeous fugue of uplifting melodies. In sweet music is such art, moody food of me and my cat.
Father Christmas might have waved goodbye to us, but that’s not the end of the Christmas Season yet. According to the liturgical calendar, we are still in the month of Nativity with the Nativity scenes and the accompanying decorations around the altars still ubiquitously present in the churches across the seven seas and seven continents, resounding with Christmas hymns at masses until the second week of January. Choirs still stage their grandest and liveliest concerts, just as their counterparts in Victorian Britain did, with the customary repertoires, ranging from the popular “Silent Night”, to “Joy to the World”. Above all these oldies but goodies, Handel’s “Messiah” chorus chimes the bell of Nativity most exultantly and reverberates with the sublime impression on the harmony of human voices that perks up the senses and uplifts the spirit of man.
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), a German-born British Baroque composer who is also called “Mother of Music” wrote “Messiah” in 1749 as an anthem for a Charity concert in the chapel of the Founding Hospital, a foundation truly close to his heart created for the guardianship and scholarship of the abandoned children and contributed the munificent largess from the subsequent performances to the hospital. Messiah’s majestic Hallelujah chorus was so impressive that King George I, the queen, and the congregation rose during the performance. Further to the royal impression, Mozart and Beethoven were said to compose similar pieces in reflection of Messiah because of its magnificent musical scale and instrumental composition superbly blended with human voices that gave a spriteful jolt to the senses and soul of the listener.
In addition to the musical excellence of “Messiah”, its significance lies in its democratization of music being accessible and doable to all pace its conception as being the prerogative to aristocrats and the proprietary to professional musicians. Out of stuffy music halls reserved for the high, Handel’s Messiah was performed in churches where the public could also enjoy it. Also, thanks to the popularization of the Hallelujah chorus, fueled by the Industrial Revolution, many an amateur choral society came into being, inviting any one to actively participate in musical activities.
Handel himself conducted or attended every performance of “Messiah” up until his death. Handel was said to riposte thus when “Messiah” was called noble entertainment: “I should be sorry if I only entertained them. I wish to make them better.” Now, that’s the true spirit of an artist who touches upon the hearts and minds of all human creatures. No wonder has the chorus given lumps in the throats of the gobsmaked audience of the world. Hallelujah.
Music has such a charm; it makes bad good and conjures memories of the places and faces of the past with nostalgia in a magical way. It’s a kind of mind teleportation, artistic time-machine, which takes you from the rut of life to anywhere you can dream about. So much so that ever witty and lively William Shakespeare said: “There’s nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is.” Just as reading makes the reader pass over to the literary world of imagination, listening to music carries the listener over to the auditory feast of melodies and rhythms, wonderfully harmonized, all in the mastery of fine musicianship inspired by the Mousal, the music muses, which is demonstrated by the fabulous Biltmore Trio.
Biltmore Trio consists of Ben Lion (Piano), Claire Whitecat (Violin) and Julie Tigress (Flute). They are fine amateur musicians who get together two days a week to play music together for reason none other than being aficionados of music, especially of the Baroque music. All of them have full-time occupations by which they earn their livelihood: Ben is an associate professor of history at Avonlea Community College. He is also an established writer for various magazine and short stories. Claire is a free-lanced book illustrator primarily for children’s books. Julie is a legal secretary working at a busy litigation law firm that would not function without her presence. They are good friends from childhood and share their love of music, books and other interests that pique their intelligent minds with scintillating curiosities. Hence, Biltmore Trio is a musical manifestation of their fellowship in the Appreciation of the Arts and Altruism of Humanity based upon the idea that the beauty of art is for everyone, not a prerogative of a few select. It is important that the public has a right to art because as Oscar Wilde attested, “Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can sure the senses but the soul.” How true it is!
With such tenets of art in mind, Biltmore Trio’s free lunchtime recital of Frederic Hendel’s “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” at the eponymous hotel lounge fills the hearts of the audience with mirth and merriment and frames their minds with beauty and alacrity. The trio’s fine musicianship becomes even more brilliant with their milk of human kindness that benefits all regardless who they are and what day do.