From all accounts (and there were many!) you had a great opening rehearsal last Tuesday with Katrina at the helm. Congratulations to all concerned: not only to Katrina but to the entire board for setting up and accomplishing registration so efficiently, to the section leaders for greeting and guiding singers to their appropriate places, to Ann for her skilled accompaniment, and of course to Bryan for his leadership throughout.
I did indeed miss you. I checked the clock just about every fifteen minutes, imagining what you were doing at the time. From the photos sent to me it looked like a good first night's turnout, and it was great to see you "all in your places, with bright shining faces"!
I'm sure that Katrina explained the structure of the work: six separate cantatas, one for each day of celebration from Christmas Day forward. The typical cantata structure contains one major chorus plus three chorales, except for #3, which contains two choruses, and #4 which has only one chorale. The movements you sing express the thoughts and feelings of the congregation; the many solos and duets express the individual's personal reflections.
Next Tuesday we'll focus on the second cantata, which contains the account of the angel's visit to the shepherds in the field. The words will of course feel very familiar, since Handel used the same texts in "Messiah". In fact, the opening of this cantata sets the scene exactly as Handel did, with a sinfonia portraying the moonlit field! The symbolism of the 12/8 meter as showing a lullaby and/or a bucolic night, plus the use of the double reeds to indicate the presence of shepherds, would have been quite familiar to the congregation.
If you have time, do look over this material. It will take time to get past the slight
inconvenience of the English text being in italics! We'll have lots of time to familiarize ourselves with all of these words, though, and I suspect you still prefer the fact that we're performing in English. I know that our audience will!
Looking forward to being with you at last next Tuesday,