CLICK HERE to download part predominant recordings of your voice part for Handel's "For Unto Us a Child is Born", Chorus No. 12 from Messiah (HWV 56, July 1741). There are three predominant recordings for each voice part: the full track, a study spot, and a slower version of the study spot. Work on the slow study spot first (Soprano mm. 13-18, Alto mm. 56-61, Tenor mm. 38-41, Bass mm. 19-24) before working on the entire piece.
Performance by the London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus, Sir Colin Davis, conductor:
"For Unto Us a Child is Born" is affectionately known as a "love duet chorus" because Handel adapted much of it from a secular Italian cantata of his entitled Nò, di voi non vo'fidarmi (HWV 189, July 1741). The performance below is by Les Sirénes at the Oct. 10, 2012 Early Music America Baroque Performance Competition in New York, NY.
Leonard Van Camp, in his book A Practical Guide for Performing, Teaching and Singing Messiah (©1993 Roger Dean), lists in Appendix III the following "Places Often Missed in Learning and Performing Messiah Choruses" for Chorus No. 12: For Unto Us a Child is Born:
- mm. 31-32 (Tenor) First note (get it from sopranos) and skip down a minor 7th to A
- m. 48 (Tenor) D-D-F (compare with bar 84)
- m. 56 (Bass) F natural
- m. 56-61 (Alto) F natural and then F sharp
- m. 66 (Bass) First six notes
- m. 71 (Tenor & Bass) Skips down of a 5th (tenor) and a 7th (bass)
- m. 76 (Bass) 6th down on beat four
- m. 77 (Alto) Third beat of 77 – E natural. These two beats need work, as does the complettion of the passage in m. 78.
- m. 79 (All parts) Finding the first pitch is tricky. Compare with bar 88 to see how to think this spot.
- m. 80 (Soprano) Beat three and four. E down to A is a perfect 5th.
- m. 84 (Tenor) G natural on the "and of 2". Compare with bar 48.
- m. 87 (Bass) Last note is octave skip down to B natural.
- m. 88 (Alto) B natural
- m. 90 (Tenor & Bass) B natural is a unison
Van Camp offers the following suggestion for learning the roulades and melismas of Chorus No. 12:
"To become secure on the passages of sixteenth notes practice singing only the first note of each group. Then have part of the chorus sing it as written while the rest sing only the first note. This will help the choristers see the 'skeleton' of these passages, called 'roulades' or 'melismas,' which are like ornamentations of a simple melody. These must be sung in a light manner with good breath management and a light clear tone." (p. 40)Read Van Camp's complete guide to learning and teaching Chorus No. 12 by clicking here.
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