Conductor Mary Beekman halted the singers and orchestra a few measures into a chorus. Apparently, the singers were singing correctly but had not put the right emotion into the work.
The artistic director for the Belmont Open Sing Series and music director of Musica Sacra for the past 30 years, Beekman wanted the amateur singers to understand that they were performing a work about the betrayal of Jesus from the point of view of his enemies.
"Get an attitude," she said to the collective laughter from the chorus.
In a gathering that emphasized the joys of the holiday and a love of music, the chorus/audience filled the auditorium of Sunday night to sing the great seasonal work: Handel's "Messiah," rich with familiar pieces including the Christmas-y "For unto Us a Child is Born," the stately closing "Amen" and the rousing and popular "Hallelujah."
According to the which runs the three concert series in which the audience becomes the chorus, 140 singers – the most the Open Sing has ever had participate – paid $10 to receive a score and have the opportunity to perform with an orchestra and soloists.
Beekman not just directed the works but explained and provided musical understanding to the delight of those attending.
And the night was a success for both the singers, the Powers School and the conductor.
"This was, by far, the best ("Messiah") we've ever had," said Beekman to one of many chorus members who came up to her after the concert to give her their thanks and holiday wishes.