13. December 2011 · 2 comments · Categories: FBQD

The Messiah had a pretty sparse orchestra: just 22 strings, 3 woodwinds (the oboe, who does not do much in the Messiah other than help the rest tune at the beginning, changed one of his reeds during the performance), 2 trumpets (who are only briefly on stage), a tympanist (who is even more briefly on stage), an organ and harpsichord. But the chorus had 106 singers. The alto solos were sung by a countertenor: most men can reach the same high notes he did, but countertenors, unlike the rest of us, don’t need cattle prods to hit those high notes.

(I’m not sure what the issue is with an oboe player changing reeds …?)


  1. I’d find it more noteworthy if an oboe player *hadn’t* fussed with a reed during a performance!

  2. Oh you DO speak the truth there! 🙂