On a cold winter’s night, a band of 2,500 crazed individuals lined up at the Kennedy Center for free tickets to the annual Messiah sing-along. Between the wind whipping in from the Potomac and the poor light, it was an interesting test of stamina, fortitude, imagination (what to do during the lengthy wait) and tunefulness; many in the crowd practiced singing from Handel’s lengthy libretto, or singing a wide number of other pieces from an equally wide number of genres. Others engaged in the usual DC-area gossip (“Do you have any job openings at your agency?” “That tax bill will be dead on arrival.” “Do you know of any inexpensive apartments in Georgetown?” “That last novel had a particularly Stygian cast to it.”), wondered where they could get something to eat, or played with their smart phones.
Once in the building, there was another wait as the line crept slowly to the gentleman dispensing tickets, then yet another wait as the crowd milled about the lobby prior to the doors opening. Fortunately, all the tickets, while free, had assigned seating, so there was no mad scramble but, rather, an ordered incoming tide filling the concert hall.
Then: two hours of Baroque music featuring the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, three conductors, and the Metropolitan Chorus, the Fort Washington Community Corus, the Northern Virginia Chorale, the NVCC Annandale Chorale, and the Prince George’s Choral Society, plus the 2,500 somewhat chilled holders of free tickets.