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In a recent post I looked at the way Handel's "Messiah" got moved from Easter to Christmas. This time I'd like to take a look at an even more puzzling question: Why does everyone stand during the "Hallelujah" chorus that concludes Part 2?

The Christmas season in upon us. For those of us keeping track of the entertainment scene, that means an inevitable encounter with at least one performance of all of the following: a stage adaptation of Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" (probably with music), Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker," and Handel's "Messiah". The latter is coming our way this weekend, in fact, from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under the baton of early music specialist Bernard Labadie.

The Bach Society of St. Louis Christmas Candlelight Concert has been a St. Louis tradition since 1951 and, as this year's sold-out edition proved tonight, that tradition is grounded in fine musicianship and intelligent programming.

When a performance of Handel’s oratorio “Messiah” includes a countertenor among the soloists and a theorbo (a giant-sized lute with open bass strings for a fuller sound) in the orchestra, you’d be justified in expecting the results to be heavily influenced by what we now know about Baroque performance practices. And with Christopher Warren-Green’s “Messiah” at Powell Hall this weekend, you’d be right—most of the time, anyway.

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