Philadelphia classical music events, discussion, and directory
If you were anywhere near the Oreland Pennsylvania area on Saturday night, January, 28, between 7:30 and 9:30, you must have felt the ground reverberating with the voices of the Philomusica Chorale joined by a 20 piece orchestra performing G. F. Handel's oratorio,"Judas Maccabaeus" with Morell's libretto. Not being a musician myself--except for playing the piano when no one else is around--I did not realize that an oratorio is actually an opera without the costly staging. Luckily for us, the music was sufficient to bring us great emotions from sadness to joy in the desire for freedom. This translates very well to present times even though the scene is 164 B.C. in Jerusalem.
This musical treat took place in the Christ's Lutheran Church at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue in Oreland, and it made the rafters ring with the boldness of the score by George Frederick Handel. I could not find the harpsichord until I was informed that Patricia Hallman, the organist, was playing the organ as a harpsichord. That is certainly an efficient use of space, and it really sounded like a harpsichord.
The audience was totally unaware of the fact that Gayle Wieand, Musical Director, had become ill that morning, and it was only her determination that kept her baton raised in leading this musically challenging oratorio for two hours. Gayle was the consummate conductor as observed by the audience who felt every nuance of the score through her fingertips and graceful arms. At the conclusion of the oratorio, the audience rose as one with thunderous applause to recognize all the musicians from the approximately 45 members of the chorus, to the 20 instrumentalists, to the 4 soloists, to the organist/harpsichordist and, of course, for Gayle Wieand as the director.
Philomusica is a community non-profit organization drawing members and audiences of diverse backgrounds from communities all over the Delaware Valley. This was my fifth concert, and each one is unique in style, setting, type of music, and special guests. Be sure to check out their next concert on April 21 at 7:30 at Christ's Lutheran Church in Oreland. There are always special "Kids Packets" filled with extra concert related materials and puzzles available at every concert.