Elijah

Last night Jesse and I went to a presentation of Mendelssohn‘s Elijah at Royce Hall. I don’t go to a lot of choral and orchestral concerts, so I’m still processing the experience.

Here’s what I liked about it: the music (some parts more than others), getting out of the house to do something new, walking around on the UCLA campus, watching one scene of a student film involving a man in a chicken suit and a pizza delivery being filmed, the lecture before the concert, and the discussion afterwards.

The singing was great (as far as I could tell), but the repetition of the lyrics really got on my nerves. Blame it on my short attention span if you want, but I really don’t see the point of the chorus repeating the sentence “He that shall endure to the end shall be saved.” for several minutes. I’ll save you from the full experience, but a lot of the lyrics went something like this:

He that shall endure
He that shall endure
He that shall endure to the end
that shall endure to the end
endure to the end
He that shall endure to the end shall be saved
He that shall endure to the end shall be saved
He that shall endure
He that shall endure to the end shall be saved
endure to the end shall be saved
shall be saved
shall be saved
shall be saved.

Trust me, that’s the abbreviated version. In the live version, many of the words are streatched out to several seconds each. In most modern music I’d guess about 50% of the lyrics are repeated, some songs more, some less. I’d guess that more than 90% of the lyrics in Elijah are repeats of something that was sung a few seconds before. I don’t know if this is typical of choral music, it’s not typical of the hymns that I sang as a kid in church (music from the same period). I probably should have figured out what was going on sooner, and just blocked out the words to focused on the music. If I had, I think I would have enjoyed the concert a lot more.

Overall it was a nice evening. I’m definitely open to going to a orchestral concert again, and I would probably enjoy going to another choral performance if the lyrics were a bit more interesting.

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