Holiday Handel Happiness

December 27, 2012, 12:39 PM · Where did I find the Christmas spirit this year?

At Bill and Judy Sloan's living-room Messiah, on Boxing Day!

Sheet music

I first wrote about their Messiah party two years ago, when I attended it for the first time. The couple has been hosting the private event since 1998 at their home, which once belonged to the late Alexander Borisoff, principal cellist of the LA Philharmonic, and where famous musicians such as cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, and violinists Jascha Heifetz and Nathan Milstein played, according to the LA Times.

Bill Sloan is a urologist as well as an amateur violinist and violin maker. Judy is a Southwestern Law School professor, pianist and mezzo-soprano. Together, they do all kinds of good for music in Los Angeles.

On Wednesday, singers and instrumentalists, professional and amateur, flocked from all over to their home on a hill in Los Feliz, Calif., for an evening of Handel happiness, lox and bagels, music instrument appreciation (there was at least on Guad, a Strad, Guarneri and Gagliano represented…) and for the truly hearty, more chamber music into the night. Frank Fetta conducted, and in the violin section, we had a special guest, Chicago Symphony assistant concertmaster David Taylor. The youngest violinist was nine (it was his first Messiah), and the oldest was 89 (NOT his first Messiah!)

No matter our differences in age, religion, ethnicity, experience, geography, language -- we can all make music together. We all DID make music together. Hallelujah!


Our host, Bill Sloan, is on the far left, standing, with conductor, Frank Fetta on the far right. Far on the left, seated, is the orchestra's youngest player!


December 27, 2012 at 08:19 PM · That's really cool Laurie! I think that these sorts of gatherings are what really make music special, to share it with friends of all ages. Sounds like a good time was had by all. :)

Here in Portland we just completed a "Bachxing" day concert, where classical musicians gathered at a bar in Portland and played Bach on December 26th. All good fun, even though you guys had us all beat, the youngest person here was 21. ;)

December 27, 2012 at 08:29 PM · What a fabulous experience that must have been, particularly judging by your radiant smile. I have always loved doing the Messiah, and now that my orch does not do it every year, I am going through terrible withdrawal. For any musician, it is one of the ultimate life experiences, particularly with a fun group like the one you play with on Boxing Day.

December 27, 2012 at 10:05 PM · "Bachzing" day sounds fun, Terry! Or should it be Bach-sing? :)

Tom, I understand what you mean; it doesn't feel like the holidays without playing at least a little of the Messiah!

December 27, 2012 at 10:11 PM · LOVE IT !!

December 28, 2012 at 12:43 AM · What a heart-warming get-together & how wonderful that you were able to participate in it. Things like make me oh-so-grateful that I play the violin.

December 28, 2012 at 01:51 AM · Beauty eh! In Canadian fasion put on your thinking tukes and have a Molsen afterwards eh! *<};o)

December 28, 2012 at 12:49 PM · I have always wanted to hold a "Sing-A-Long-Messiah" in my home town, but now may have to borrow this idea! That looks like a lot of fun!

December 28, 2012 at 01:45 PM · Laurie - in our most recent concert, we played three choruses. A little bit of the Messiah does not do it for me. I have to have at least the whole Part 1 with a few further choruses to get the surge of endorphins I need this time of year.

December 28, 2012 at 03:07 PM · Loving hearing about the Joy of the season.

December 29, 2012 at 01:56 PM · I would do this ... but I don't think my living room could handle it. (cough!)

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