Do you stand for the Hallelujah Chorus by Handel?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Dec 9, 2007.

  1. Principessa

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    I attended my local, county, community choirs' holiday concert last night. I must say I was quite impressed with the local talent. :smile: They did a splendid job with some rather difficult arrangements. I particularly enjoyed the 2nd chair violin who sported a nice boner through most of the concert. :wink: :cool:

    When they started singing the Hallelujah Chorus 4 people in the front row stood up then turned around to look at the rest of us as if to say, "What's wrong with you heathens? Stand up!" So approximately 750 of us were shamed into standing. :redface::confused:

    I have sung in choirs for many years and have often sung the Hallelujah Chorus. However, I have no recollection of ever seeing the audience stand. :confused: I googled it and found out this is considered normal in many English speaking countries.

    So my question is this, when you are at a concert and the Hallelujah Chorus is performed do you stand? If so, in what state or country do you reside?





    Hallelujah Chorus: Background Information

    'Messiah,' a Seasonal Standard Standing Strong

    Survey of Musical Directors' views on audiences standing during the Hallelujah Chorus
     
  2. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Why on earth would you? It's not an anthem to a sovereign or a nation. Sounds like some fundies trying to push their self-righteousness down the throats of everyone else.
     
  3. kalipygian

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    No, it is usual for the 'Ode to Joy' in Beethoven's ninth symphony.
     
  4. DC_DEEP

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    Wow, I've never heard of that. It's not my most favorite work, but I've performed Messiah more times than should be legal for any human being. I've sung it, in both tenor and bass sections; I've played it, in the flute, horn, trombone, and percussion sections. I've never seen the audience stand for the Hallelujah Chorus.

    Strange.

    Oh, and by the way, I never stand (for honors or ovation) unless I feel it is deserved. No one shames me into standing.:biggrin1:
     
  5. prepstudinsc

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    It's long been custom for the audience to stand for "Hallelujah" because the king originally stood, thinking that the oratorio was finished, so he stood all the way through as the choir sang it. It's been prevailing custom since then. When we sing it at my church, the congregation stands.

    I've performed it in CA, TN, NC and SC and everywhere I've done it, the audience or congregation has stood.
     
  6. prepstudinsc

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    Thank you. I HATE it when the audience just automatically stands at the end of a program. I was always taught that a standing ovation should properly be given when something just magical, and not really explainable, happens. The standing ovation has lost its meaning. When I finish playing a concert, it seems that most of the time the audience just goes to standing. To me, it means nothing anymore. I wish people would just sit and applaud.

    I have been at several concerts lately and the whole audience just stood to applaud. I remained in my seat because I was not moved to the level if what I thought was standing ovation quality.
     
  7. DC_DEEP

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    :biggrin1: I guess it's just a musician thing. I find gratuitous praise annoying, rather than flattering.
     
  8. B_Lightkeeper

    B_Lightkeeper New Member

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    My choral director in high school always made it a point to instruct new students about standing during a live presentation of the "Hallelujah" Chorus. To this day I still do even though it does present a few stares from others in the audience who remain seated.
     
  9. Calboner

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    Glad that you brought this up, NJQT. I first got acquainted with Messiah through recordings, and only in adulthood did I first attend a live performance. It was a "WTF?" moment for me when the audience rose to its feet at the "Hallelujah" chorus. When I learned that this was the custom, I resolved never to attend another performance again (or to leave before the performance got to that point). I felt utterly betrayed: I had come to attend what is always presented as a secular musical event, a performance of a work that anyone of whatever faith or no faith can appreciate, only to find, in the midst of it, the audience treating it as an occasion to acknowledge Jesus Christ. I don't doubt the story that the custom got started when the king rose under the mistaken impression that the work was over (as one cannot remain seated when the king is on his feet), but it is obvious that audiences are not rising in recognition of King George II. What they think that they are doing I don't know, but it seems to me that they are in effect saluting Jesus Christ and obnoxiously pressuring non-Christians to conform with them.

    As for the ever-lower standards for standing ovations at concerts, I have attended, I believe, five concerts of the orchestra in the city where I live, and at every fucking one of them, the audience was on its feet at the end. It is complete idiocy, like the game of musical chairs in an episode of The Simpsons where there are more chairs than there are children playing so that "Everybody wins!" It shows that people by and large have no fucking standards whatever.
     
  10. Industrialsize

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    Standing during the hallelujah chorus is a long standing tradition......It has nothing to do with giving the chorus a standing ovation and it also has nothing to do with religion......just a tradition.........Classical music has a lot of strange traditions....there is an Opera By Richard Wagner called Parsifal......It is "tradition" NOT to applaud at the end of act one........It's always interesting to me to watch a few people who are Not in the know, start to applaud and then stop with a WTF look on their face...
     
  11. Guy-jin

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    Long answer: No.
     
  12. jorpollew

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    As a trained musician, I have performed Handel's Messiah numerous times. And yes, audiences have regularly stood for the singing of "Hallelujah Chorus". Although I always knew that it wasn't for religious reasons, I just always presumed that everyone (everywhere) stood up b/c of its tradition.

    When sung in its entirety, the 3-part "Messiah" is a very long performace-- almost 3 hrs. But at its debut performance, audiences did not know this. The King stood during "Hallelujah Chorus" b/c, after sitting through 2 hours of choral singing, he thought it was the end of the concert. When in fact, it was just the end of part two! To minimize the king's "faux pas", the story was spun to say that he stood up b/c he was so moved by the music.

    So, I think it's hilarious that people still stand today, commemorating a royal mistake!

    from Wikipedia:
    Tradition has it that King George II rose to his feet at this point. As the first notes of the triumphant Hallelujah Chorus rang out, the king rose. Royal protocol has always demanded that whenever the monarch stands, so does everyone in the monarch's presence. Thus, the entire audience stood too, initiating a tradition that has lasted more than two centuries.

    It's also interesting to note that even though we hear "Hallelujah Chorus" more often during Christmas season, it was actually written as part of the Easter portion (part 2) of "The Messiah".



    That's news to me. I've performed Beethoven's 9th several times and the audiences have never stood during "Ode to Joy". It would seem confusing b/c, since there is no break between the last 2 movements, there is no clear cut cue for where the audience would stand. In fact, so that the choir did not have to stand for all 4 movements, it was the brass section that gave the choir its cue to stand and sing.
     
  13. Principessa

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  14. dreamer20

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    This tradition was not known to me prior to reading your post njqt.
     
  15. Calboner

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    You got it (in your last sentence). I believe that I can generalize beyond my own case and say that Jews, even unobservant and unbelieving ones, are acutely sensitive about being pressured to make any gesture that suggests acceptance of another religion.

    It may be that most of the people who stand for the "Hallelujah" chorus have no thought of their act having a religious significance. Perhaps they think that they are just standing because the chorus is such a great, rousing piece of music. (And it is: the "The kingdom of this earth" part regularly brings tears to my eyes. Damn it, there they go!) But consider: the only other piece performed at classical concerts at which audiences stand in the United States, so far as I know, is our national anthem (usually performed by symphony orchestras at the first concert of their season). That, for us, is serious business, and to remain seated during the anthem would be regarded as an act of disrespect, even on the part of a non-citizen. We stand, not because we admire the piece of music, but because we acknowledge at the very least the authority of the nation for which it stands; and we expect the foreign visitor to do the same while he or she is here.

    So to stand for a particular piece of music is a very strong gesture of acknowledgment of whatever that piece of music stands for. And what does the "Hallelujah" chorus stand for? Well, the piece celebrates the birth of what a Christian would describe as "our" Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is what is explicitly represented in the piece. I cannot see that there is anything else that the gesture of standing can plausibly be construed as being directed toward. It may be true that many or most people who stand for the chorus do not think of the act that way. But that does not mean that the act does not have that significance: it means only that those people act thoughtlessly, out of social conformity, and fail to think of the meaning of their actions.
     
  16. B_Hickboy

    B_Hickboy New Member

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    I stand. BFD. It's a charming tradition, and there's no harm in it. It's my way of paying respect to GFH's achievement, which is one I certainly couldn't equal.

    B'sides, if I don't I'll wind up sitting there looking at the arse of whoever's in front of me.
     
  17. camper joe

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    At the beginning of the Hallelujah Chorus, the audience stands, or at least thats the way it been at the performances I have attended.
     
  18. b.c.

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    Well I did (stood) while I was singin it, in a college choir (what the hey-needed some extra credit hours, so I took choir). But I can't rightly recall what the audience was doing.
     
  19. jason_els

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    Standing for it because a king did 200+ years ago? Ridiculous!

    NJQT466: The article does note that New York audiences don't stand for it. Perhaps that's why you and I have never seen it happen.
     
  20. LeeEJ

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    I can't remember what I did during the one time I've seen it live -- I think I stayed seated.

    Either that or I was jarred from my slumber and reflexively stood up. :biggrin1:
     
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