George Frideric Handel (German, then British, 1685-1759): Israel in Egypt, Frogs!
Oratorios are a bit like unstaged operas--they tell dramatic, usually religious, stories with soloists, chorus, and orchestra. They were originally created to be performed during Lent, when the spectacle of opera was considered inappropriate. Handel, a German, was the greatest composer of English oratorio, including this one about the Exodus. In this movement, while the singer describes the plague, you can hear the violins leaping and hopping around, exactly like frogs! Since these movements are short, pick at least one other plague movement and listen to how the music "paints" the picture (the following movement, for instance, depicts swarms of flies--again the violins!).
(The "frog" movement is sung here by a countertenor--a man who uses the "falsetto" range of his voice. It might seem weird until you get used to it, then it can be quite beautiful. But usually a bit of an acquired taste!)
Trinity Wall Street Choir and Baroque Orchestra
Live performance by Pacific Baroque Orchestra and the Early Music Vancouver Vocal Ensemble.
10:42 "He smote all the firstborn of Egypt"
Practicing tip (can be used for all kinds of tasks)
Get ready to practice, as described on day 1. Think about how long you can reasonably concentrate for, and set a timer for 5 minutes LESS than that. I.e. if you think you can concentrate for 20 minutes, set the timer for 15. If you are using a phone as a timer, put it on "do not disturb" mode and turn it face down. Set a notebook or piece of paper next to your practice area. Start the timer, and begin practicing. When ANY distraction pops into your head, write it down and tell yourself you will come back to it after you practice; everything can wait 15 minutes. Then, after the alarm goes off, decide how to deal with the items on your list.
When I started doing this I was astonished by how long and random my lists were--I always thought I was relatively focused practicer (though I am terrible at other tasks), yet here were all kinds of things that would have been distracting me almost without my realizing it! Emails to write, items to be put on a grocery list, even more insignificant things... It's very helpful to get those out of the brain and onto paper.
In May 2017 I challenged my students to practice every day for 30 days in a row. In addition, I asked them to listen to 30 bite-sized musical selections I emailed daily. I collected my picks in this blog for posterity. So these are works I find particularly fun, interesting, or important, including a handful by composers who were born or who died in May. Please enjoy!