After some frantic moments, I gave up and wore the "small' walking shoes, the ones with no inserts. Less clunky, and under the long black slacks, not that obvious. The drive in was pleasant until near 360--the clouds and fog had cleared (but only temporarily, as it turned out) and I got to Riverbend shortly after sunset, while it was still light enough to navigate the parking lots in relative safety.
Leaving out the boring bits (the lecture on decorum, because last year someone talked while the soloists sang and wasn't invited back this year, and other stuff), we got ourselves lined up and ready and trooped out onto the stage in front of a sold-out house, the back row climbing up first, then the others filling in. The house lights went down. Out came David and our soloists. The orchestra launched into the little Symphonia, and from there it was all fireworks. An audience that wants to hear what you're ready to perform creates a wonderful tension--they were "warm" to start with, and we could feel that. We exploded into the first chorus...all our soloists did brilliantly...and it was what you hope for, as a chorister--the feeling that you can trust all the others, you can carve into the music, making the big moves that the director asked for as well as the little ones, and the others are with you...the bass section produced actual unified trills...and so on.
We came into the last chorus with enough voice left to make it the showpiece it should be, even the Amen section (which--and I've sung it this way with other choirs--can be a boring--to the audience--and terrifying--to the singers--string of undifferentiated Amens, long, short, plain,and fancy. The first time I sang Messiah, in the performance one whole section got a measure off from everyone else in the Amens and had to be forcibly yanked back into place by the conductor's glare and gesture: "Shut up! Wait! OK, NOW!".) Last night it was structurally clean, each line its own color, making a braid with no loose edges, no fuzzy bits.
The applause (as earlier, before the interval) was more than polite--it was very enthusiastic--and when after the soloists' bows and the orchestra's recognition, we got ours--they hollered and whistled. So. Write what she will, the people who count got what they paid for.
We came out to dense fog and a long wait to get out of the parking lot, but I made it home shortly before midnight. Whew.
The soloists this year were all excellent, as were the orchestra--the trumpet soloist for the "And the trumpet shall sound" was just incredible. And David was the inimitable David, his enthusiasm for the music, and for all of us, contagious. He makes it fun, without letting it be sloppy.