NDSU’s Handel’s Messiah

My Loves and not so Loves

My boyfriend has been in choir for as long as I have known him. When we were in high school I went to his Vivace concerts. Now that we are both a little older, the Christmas concert I have been attending was The Handel’s the Messiah concert that they have been performing for the last 20 years at NDSU. By all accounts it’s a beloved holiday tradition. 

Some Not-Loves

I have a confession to make, it’s not my favorite  concert. I enjoy going because I love supporting my boyfriend, chatting with the friendly audience members who have also come to see a loved one sing, and the musicians always do a wonderful job. 

It’s the music genre itself that I don’t love. The original music was written in 1741 and is, to my understanding, an oratorio. If you don’t know what that is, that’s okay. It’s basically a music piece similar to opera, but is strictly a concert piece. It also usually has religious undertones.  

Apart from the music being old, I just genuinely don’t enjoy some of the instruments that are a part of the accompaniment. For example, I don’t like the harpsichord. The first year I went I sat right in the front of the church, near the feet of the orchestra and right next to this instrument.  I got to listen to the harpsichord for the entirety of the three hour concert. It was that very night I learned that this is not my favorite instrument. 

No disrespect to the wonderful man who played the harpsichord. He did an amazing job! I just don’t have a taste for the sound of the instrument. 

The same can be said of the singers. The soloists did an amazing job performing this piece. Their voices truly are among the angels. They made no mistakes. But the music itself just isn’t for me. 

My final gripe with this concert is the layout of the church. Half of the musicians are sitting on the balcony. Again, the first year my boyfriend sang in this concert, I sat in the front row while he was on the balcony. So I attended this concert, to listen to music I do not enjoy, to watch him sing, and I didn’t get to watch him sing. 

This year however, I decided I wouldn’t make the same mistake again. I came half an hour early, and secured a seat on the balcony. Even still, I couldn’t see him sing.

This is the very ticket gifted to me by a kind concert attendee. Photo Credit | Abigail Faulkner


In talking to some of the musicians for this piece. It has come to my attention that the church hosts this concert for free without charging the school. It made me so happy to hear that. 

First, of all, being generous with the space is exactly what churches are supposed to be doing, at least in my eyes. Second, it totally makes sense given the context of the music. Third, that makes this event a fundraiser for the Challey School of Music. 

With budget cuts coming to NDSU, having a fundraiser like this will probably help keep the music school thriving in what could be a trying time to come. The arts are, in general, underfunded and under-appreciated so I love to see the arts getting a little extra love this holiday season. 

Additionally, just because opera isn’t for me doesn’t mean that I don’t see it as beautiful. I can appreciate the raw talent that NDSU’s music program has. I would have no idea how you would even begin putting on a music performance this massive .

Every music soloist absolutely killed it. They blew my expectations out of the water with what they were doing. I also loved the orchestra. I am a little biased because despite my harpsichord slander earlier, I love most string instruments, especially the cello. 

Also, as I alluded to earlier, the audience members were so kind! The guy next to me was also there to watch his loved one perform. The couple sitting behind me came all the way from Minot to hear their daughter sing. I was gifted a ticket to see the show. Truly the people who go love attending it. The energy in the room was of people who enjoyed the performance. 

Tickets sold out quickly! I must be the only person in Fargo who isn’t a massive fan of this program. If it were up to me, I would encourage NDSU to have a more jolly Christmas program. But clearly, something about this program has stood the test of time. If it has been around for 280 years and is still being performed, it must have a little magic even if I don’t fully understand it. 

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