Scratch Messiah


I sang chorus in a Scratch Messiah before Christmas, and found another one just before Easter, so went to that also.  It’s about occupying my mind, and being drawn to familiar things.

I found an amazing website for choral singers that plays you all the parts separately, to help you learn them.  How times have changed – what a wonderful resource.  Easier than trying to pick out all the notes on a keyboard yourself (especially when you no longer have any sort of keyboard).

Some bits of it are so beautiful – I was struck by some of the wonderful answering phrases between the parts.

It’s a long time since I’ve sung in choirs, but these recent experiences have reminded me that the absolutely vital thing is to COUNT to yourself as you follow the music – it’s the key to cracking it.  Now I’m sure everyone who sings in a choir would say; er yes, of course, how else to do it?  But I’ve rediscovered the importance of counting, and what I mean is – as opposed to trying to follow another line and get your cue from that (confusing when the music is so often syncopated), and also as opposed to trying to picture a conductor’s beat, ie beating time with a down beat on the bar (I was doing this at first in my head but kept losing the pattern).

My tip is just to really concentrate, look at each bar as it goes along and count the beat in your head really strictly – one two three four, or one two three.  You need to be absolutely sure of where you are, then you can be confident of coming in correctly.  (Easier said than done of course.)

My personal objective each time was to sing the thing through and be 100% accurate, ie not get any notes wrong or miss anything out.  I reckon both times I was around 95% right.

One thing made me laugh to myself on the train home.  There’s a chorus which goes ‘Great was the company of the preachers…’ and I was so tired in the evening after rehearsing since noon, that once I sang ‘Great was the company of the creatures…’  Mental image of a vast number of camels, cows, deer, rabbits etc standing on a hillside.

Handel’s Messiah meets The Animals of Farthing Wood!

Bristol Zoo Gardens

  • I was lucky that I got a space in a car park nearby at 10am. But this soon closed up and at 12 when I left everything said full so I suppose I would’ve given up if I’d arrived later.
  • Generally not a very big zoo, and no ‘serious’ animals (eg elephants, giraffe, camel, zebra, tiger, bears), but very nice gardens and a perfectly nice small attraction to walk around. (Did have lions and gorillas.)
  • Two male lions in a very small enclosure exhibiting the worst type of zoo behaviour, pacing constantly up and down – didn’t look happy.
  • Also saw one largish monkey on its own, looking like its behaviour wasn’t right – it was clutching on to its leg and kept hiding its head down. Maybe it was just trying to sleep but it looked very nervous, like it was trying to avoid seeing or being seen.
  • Lots of walk-through enclosures, houses etc. Went in Nocturnal House, Reptile House, Aquarium, walk-through flamingos, walk-through fruit bats, Butterfly House.  The wallaby one was closed, the seal/penguin one I didn’t bother with – it was the furthest away and no-one seemed to be going to it.
  • Best thing of all was ring-tailed lemur walk-through enclosure where you really saw them close up and one had two little babies – I took loads of photos.
  • Several giant animatronic models of insects set around the place as a feature – was obviously popular with children.
  • A design objection I’ve come across in zoos before – you walk all round it, then want to sit in a cafe before you leave, but the only cafe is back on the other side, not near the entrance.
  • Yes I did buy a cuddly toy – a nice quality Wallaby (funny cos I didn’t see one, but something I don’t have). Also a beautiful book on primates which I shall enjoy looking at.