The Hallelujah Chorus in a Mall?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010 - 10:37 AM

Over the past couple of weeks, I've received several notices about this YouTube clip of people at a food court in a Canadian mall breaking out into a performance of the Hallelujah chorus. I didn't have time until today to look at it. Besides, I saw the one where a group sang the La Traviata "Drinking Song" in a mall, so I thought I was pretty much up to date on this concept.

But, I just finished watching this piece of video, and I'm not exactly sure why, but I'm wiping the tears from my eyes. In reading some of the comments on YouTube, I see that I am not alone in my reaction.

So, take a look when you can and tell me what you think.


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Comments [58]

elizabeth cohen from POUGHKEEPSIE,ny


Nov. 30 2012 11:16 AM

i had just heard about this video clip from my auntie and had to watch it, the tears are streaming down my cheeks with the awesome power the praise and human voices can produce....such a moving statement to a world that seems to be godless....

Jan. 07 2012 04:38 PM
Barry Owen Furrer

This mall performance's location certainly is food for thought.

Dec. 26 2011 09:59 AM
AMN from NY

I have listened to this tape several times ... and every time it sends chills through me. Much more moving than a similar event at Macy's in Philadelphia [also taped]. The first time, I also wept. Stunning, especially the opening soloists ... and the wonderful smile from the girl in a black leather jacket.

Jan. 02 2011 04:42 PM
Arlene from Toronto

Beautiful, thats all I can say. For a choir to come together and do something like that- BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!

Dec. 24 2010 07:27 PM
katheeen joyce

This is just so beautiful, Happy Christmas, from Kathleen in the
Fields of Athenry Ireland

Dec. 20 2010 04:02 AM
Steve from Fresno

This left me thunder-struck in the most magnificent way. If it felt so wonderful here, imagine heaven....

Dec. 18 2010 02:04 PM
Jeannie Brewer Lewis from St Augustine, FL

absolutely beautiful and thrilling. ther ARE STILL PEOPLE IN AMERCIA WHO BELIEVE IN GOD.this gives us hope for ou country. thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Dec. 17 2010 01:32 PM
Arden Anderson-Broecking from Darien, Connecticut

I also received a smiliar video which was shot at Macy's (formerly Wanamaker's,) in Philadelphia, where there remains the pipe organ instlaled there manyyear ago. Singers wearing large buttons (Philadelphia Choral Society, I think) took a cue from the organist, and swung into the
Hallelujah Chorus. Customers were stunned at first, but they all knew where the Hallelujahs" came and started to sing!
I got teary, too, ewspecially at the end when a man stood, arms extended and a wonderful, sang out the last "Hallelujah!" It was pretty amazing!

Dec. 15 2010 09:02 AM

Micheal Meltzer, I really appreciated this post you made:

"Unexpectedly, along comes a particulrly compelling piece of music and we are allowed to FEEL, only it doesn't stop there. Everything else we were sitting on comes right up behind it and we are overwhelmed with emotion."

This is so completely the response to sublime music, and it has nothing to do with any particular belief-system or tradition, and it doesn't deny any either. It is just uplifting to all of us.

Thank you for putting your finger on the heart of the matter.

Glorious, isn't it?

Dec. 11 2010 10:25 PM
Joseph Hogan from Winnsboro, Texas

I saw one very similar to this recently. It was at a busy Macys store. It was even better because the shoppers were more surprised! I likrd both!

Dec. 10 2010 06:43 PM
Karen of NJ

I believe that Handel's Messiah was written for Easter even though it's become the custom to sing at Christmas.

Dec. 10 2010 05:59 PM

On air, Midge says "Allelulia Chorus" instead of "Hallelujah Chorus." Although Handel's Messiah goes through different periods, Allelulia is traditionally used at Easter time and Hallelujah for Christmas.

Dec. 10 2010 03:17 PM
Rich Egan from Newark, NJ

I have seen this before and loved it. It is one of my favorite pieces. This not new as various pieces have been done around the world including this: On Saturday, April 24th, the Opera Company of Philadelphia teamed up with the Reading Terminal Market Italian Festival for a large-scale "Flash Opera" event! Over 30 members of the Opera Company of Philadelphia Chorus and principal cast members of LA TRAVIATA performed the famed "Brindisi" in the aisles of Reading Terminal Market,

Which is available on youtube also.

It is fun and I would love to be at one of these in a food court or where ever

Dec. 09 2010 11:52 AM
Eva Hill from White Plains, NY

To Michael Meltzer:
Thank you for your defense! It's appreciated.
This was my first venture into the world of blogging, from which I will now retire, permanently!
Back to books, newspapers, family, friends, music on the radio, and art.
Blogs, begone!

Dec. 09 2010 11:32 AM
Michael Meltzer

We walk around all day or all week being urged not to show feelings, especially if we are in a corporate environment. Don't show annoyance, pride, boredom, frustration, dislike, excitement,or anything that rocks anyone's boat.
Feelings don't go away. Unexpectedly, along comes a particulrly compelling piece of music and we are allowed to FEEL, only it doesn't stop there. Everything else we were sitting on comes right up behind it and we are overwhelmed with emotion.
The Hallelujah Chorus isn't the only pice that is so evocative, people react similarly to the Ode to Joy, the Barber Adagio, Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, Silent NIght, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, the Vaughan Williams "Old Hundredth", and I'm sure there are others.
Sometimes the telling of a joke, that in retrospect wasn't even that funny, evokes long, hysterical laughter, which is a release.
It is fortunate that we have these safety valves, otherwise we might make ourselves very sick and certainly unhappy.

Dec. 09 2010 11:26 AM
Gefv Sweeney from Ocean Grove, New Jersey

@Ron Owens, that's a lovely explanation! However, I doubt it's complete. Certainly, the music is a trigger to something cherished, but the moment is ambivalent: we savor the memory, but at the same time, we mourn the loss of the people, time and event that first brought us the joy the trigger incites us to remember. We're simultaneously delighted and sorrowful; ergo, the tears are tears of sorrow, not joy. Does that make sense?

Dec. 09 2010 09:46 AM
Ron Owens from Mountain Lakes, NJ

Tom- in another career, I was a bereavement counselor. Let me try to answer your question. Hearing a piece of familiar music is a trigger. It takes you to another time, place, or person in your life that may have been special and that possibly you miss. Said another way, your soul and spirit have been touched. Treasure those moments, recognizing what they are. (The same thing happens to me when I hear a Sousa march).

Dec. 09 2010 08:59 AM
Marjorie from New Jersey

That outbreak of the Halelujah Chorus really did move me. I sing in my church choir and it is, by far, my favorite song to sing. What impressed me most was how stunned and happy the crowd seemed to be when the singing started. I loved that NO one stood up and tried to shout them down or anything negative! What JOY ! What glorious, beautiful JOY! Merry Christmas everyone !

Dec. 09 2010 08:56 AM
Gev Sweeney from Ocean Grove, New Jersey

Why ARE we crying over this vid??? Because the performance was so unexpected, coming as it did amid the most unremarkable settings during a fast-food nosh, one of the most unremarkable, ordinary parts of life? Because 100 strangers played such a gorgeous prank??? Because, as others here have said, it was indeed a random act of kindness, and we're not used to strangers being kind to others???

I wish writers here would stop arguing over the relkigious aspect of the piece. It's one of the most recognizable pieces of Christmas music out there. And it requires a fairly sied force of performers. If YOU were going to make a splash in a big place during the holidays, which would YOU do it with, Stille Nacht, Frosty the Snowman, or The Hallelujah Chorus??? Of COURSE you'd go with the big number--the Hallelujah Chorus. Stille Nacht is too quiet, and Frosty is way too religious--that Resurrection theme, you know. *wink*

Dec. 09 2010 08:10 AM
Michael Meltzer

to Humphreytheater:
A Straw Man Argument is when you:
a.) Put words in the mouth of your opponent, who usually isn't there at the time, and
b.) Attack the statement you attribute to them ( that they didn't make) with your convincing rebuttal.
That is what you did to Eva Hill.

Dec. 09 2010 12:04 AM

To Eva Hill:
Do you also resent religious symbols on the tombstones of American men and women who like buried in military cemeteries? There are those groups of atheists who want Christian, Hebrew and other religious symbols barred from tombstones of American heroes. Christmas is about Jesus Christ, not Frosty the Snowman and if "Prince of Peace" and "He shall reign forever and ever is offensive to you then turn off your radio until December 26th.

Dec. 08 2010 11:35 PM
karen nj

Why....for me as a affirmation of faith....a resounding praise the Lord....again and again...for all of us who are silent so as not to be politically incorrect. Respectful ,as taught, of other religions, this an affirmation of Christ - that is what Christmas is - .Christ. Believers, believe, and non believers - respect my belief as yours is respected. Alleulia!!!

Dec. 08 2010 09:53 PM
Susan from Manhattan

I was going to put in the link to "Opera in Alto Palermo" but I see Jim already did. I liked that one better than the Hallelujah chorus -- perhaps because I saw it first & it surprised & delighted me.

Dec. 08 2010 08:38 PM
John Goodwin from Demarest, NJ

Midge, Thanks for sharing this ! I cried too, not sure why. Like others here I too have been a part of a number of groups singing The Hallelujah Chorus, from H.S. to recent times, and heard it (and sung with the audience) at Lincoln Center. It is great music
and brought wonderful life to that food court. I wonder how many people who were not a part of the secret joined in. Lots I hope.
Happy Christmas !

Dec. 08 2010 06:38 PM
fernwoodclassic from Plainfield, NJ

Talk about a random act of kindness!!

I, too, found that to be an emotionally inspiring clip. More for the music than the theme but a bit of both.

The sad part is that I can't imagine it happening in America without someone waving some politically correct banner and raining on the parade. But it has given me a couple ideas!

Dec. 08 2010 01:31 PM
Kathy from Kalamazoo

I too was moved to tears but it is not due to the religious theme of the music. An incredibly beautiful piece of music, sung a cappella to an unsuspecting but appreciative audience became a magical combination. Such a diverse audience who all seemed to be in awe of what was happening. Our world can be ugly at times. This was timeless beauty.

Dec. 08 2010 01:02 PM
vicky c from Queens, NY

More classical music be it religious or not, should be played and sung in malls...perhaps people would get a musical education. Museums have scores of "religious" are not beholding to believe the story behind them. They are beautiful to the eye of the beholder just as music is to the ear. Enjoy!

Dec. 08 2010 11:34 AM
Tom from West Orange, NJ

My reaction was inexplicably emotional too. It's not the music - I have attended many Messiah performances and not been as emotionally moved. Any psychologists or anthropologists out there that could attempt an explanation?

Dec. 08 2010 11:19 AM
Andrew from New Jersey

I only wish I had been there to hear it live, I would have joined in the singing performance. If you've never performed 'The Hallelujah Chorus' from Handel's Messiah I recommend you find a local choir who does this extraordinary piece, join it and experience performing it. It's one of the most gratifying feelings you'll ever have.

BTW - A very respectful note to Midge: It's pronounced The HAH-LAY-LOO-YAH Chorus.

Dec. 08 2010 11:15 AM

I had some of the thoughts that Michael had about the religious content, but I was also swept away, as I always am, by the glorious music. It seems that the regular diners in the mall liked it too. As to whether it was live or not, I think you never can properly lip-synch without it showing, no matter how good you are (Pavaratti found that out once, didn't he?)
I found these wonderfully trained voices, singing their heads off and loving it, to be absolutely wonderful, and a great lark. They deserved the applause they received.

Dec. 08 2010 11:13 AM
Jim McGuire

Amazing surprise. Wonderful gift for those in the mall. You can't buy anything better.

Dec. 08 2010 11:06 AM
Gev Sweeney from Ocean Grove, New Jersey

Got a great kick out of the tenor holding aloft the wet floor sign (1:04)! There are so many little things in the vid that can provide fodder for discussions about ordinariness and the roles of music and religion in society ...

Dec. 08 2010 10:44 AM
Michael Meltzer

To Eva Hill:
Thank you. Thank God for atheists!

Dec. 08 2010 10:31 AM
Gev Sweeney from Ocean Grove, New Jersey

Love, love, love it! What a splendid idea!!!! Ha ha, the real customers must have thought they were in the middle of a movie musical. I mean, people just don't start singing in medias res--and in a mall food court, of all places! The reactions are wonderful!

Dec. 08 2010 09:47 AM
John J. Christiano from Franklin NJ

Music is a dish best served spontaneously, with flavors unexpected!

Dec. 08 2010 08:35 AM
Eva Hill from White Plains, NY

To Michael Meltzer:
I am an atheist, who was very moved by the Hallelujah Chorus mall video, because of the beauty of Handel's music. For me, the words didn't detract from that pleasure, although in general, I tend to resent the intrusion of religious elements in public places. But your reply of Dec. 7th makes your point very well, and should be accepted by all who read it. Well thought, well said.

Dec. 08 2010 08:30 AM

Was that Dick Cheney at 1:30?

Dec. 07 2010 11:23 PM

For a set-up piece, Bravo and well done! Tears here, in Bklyn...for those not of the faith, music well done is just that. Enjoy.

Dec. 07 2010 11:13 PM
Mary from Michigan

I did kind of like the reactions of those seemingly caught by surprise. The guy at 3'24" seemed particularly happy.

Dec. 07 2010 09:05 PM

I just love this. I love the voices, I love how the singers look like regular folk, and I love how some in the food court really got into it and others just sort of sat there with their fries and went on.
I am pleased that WQXR got to see it.

Dec. 07 2010 08:08 PM
jacqueline george from uniondale, N.Y.,

I thought this was amazing! I would have joined in with the alto line. Bravo to those people who sang! Well done!

Dec. 07 2010 08:08 PM
Shannon from Parlin, NJ

Beautiful....simply beautiful! Perhaps some of those singing were professionals, but it seemed to me that many of those singing were caught up in the spirit of the music and simply joined right in.

It reminded me somewhat of the beginning and ending scenes from Godspell...

Dec. 07 2010 06:38 PM
Judy from Manhattan

To Eva,

Yes, just a little too well rehersed, and a little too much on key. Kudos, though, for those who planned it.

Dec. 07 2010 05:37 PM
Michael Meltzer

To Carl:
Don't be a mind reader. I've missed no point, as a life-long choral singer. I have sung the Messiah, the St. Matthew Passion, many masses and requiems, of which my favorite is the Mozart Requiem I've done six times. I made my living for five years as a choral music dealer, requiring in-depth familiarity with Christian liturgy.
I pick and choose what I sing and when and where. In a concert venue it is possible to support the spirit of a work without adopting the creed, just as an actor on the stage does not adopt the value system of the character he plays.
It took a long time to sort all this out, I would not presume that a diner in the mall may also have had the opportunity or the motivation to do the same.
You, Carl, are also removing RELIGION from the event, as a WQXR listener. Why would a diner in the mall have your frame of mind? How would you know that they had? The text of the musical selection is unequivocal.

Dec. 07 2010 03:47 PM
Carl from New York City

Michael Meltzer --I think you have completely missed the point here -- and brought in RELIGION -- instead of having an open mind to simply enjoy the "spirit" of what was intended.

Funny, isn't this what we battle with on a global scale. We seem to have dificulty appreciating the rich diversity that life has given us. I am happy that I can enjoy Chanukah -- with my Jewish friends and Christmas with my Christian friends -- It's the reason I love living in New York City!!

Dec. 07 2010 03:14 PM
Eva Hill from White Plains, NY

I heard this video, and have a different issue in mind. It was beautiful, but the sound quality struck me as too good to have been recorded in the mall. It's clear that they planned it ahead of time, and are singing aloud. But my guess is that they're singing to a pre-recorded version, perhaps of their own voices, and that this is what you and I are hearing, too. Anybody know?

Dec. 07 2010 03:03 PM
Jim from Bloomfield, NJ

I'd like to pass on this link to a flash opera performance in Buenos Aires. It was sent to me by a friend:

Unexpected Italian opera show in Alto Palermo shopping center, Buenos
Aires, Nov 5

Espectaculo inesperado de opera italiana en Alto Palermo shopping,
Buenos Aires, 5 de Nov

Dec. 07 2010 02:43 PM
dorothy siclare from NJ

Hi Midge, I am typing this through tears. What on earth just happened....? I'm 62 years old, and have heard the Hallelulia Chorus more times than I can count, I've seen it performed in NYC and heard it in churches but this video touched something in side me,

To venture a's the juxtaposition of the mundain with the sublime. We see a shopping mall food court with plain people dressed in their t-shirts and sneakers eating fast food , become transformed into such a place of beauty as one by one these "everyday folk" join the chorus and sing with their exquisite God-given voices. Really fantastic.

Dec. 07 2010 02:26 PM
Michael Meltzer

Of course, good music is never intrusive. Words are instrusive. When you sing, fortissimo, the words "And He shall reign forever" into the ear of a Jewish diner in the mall, that is intrusive. Sorry.
Platitudes do not add clarity to the issue.

Dec. 07 2010 02:25 PM
Randy from Westwood, CA

Thanks, Midge, for sharing the Canadian Messiah flash mob--my sister in Iowa is trying to organize a mob at her local mall and she sent this to me, too. It's wonderful to be moved to tears at my desk by this chorus bringing glorious music into a workaday mall and it looked like lots of shoppers there had smiles on their faces, too. Peace on earth.

Dec. 07 2010 02:15 PM
Carl Conway from New York City

And yes Midge - I understand your tears, as mine came flooding as well -- I guess it just touches that place in each of us that is good, pure and authentic.

Happy Holidays

Dec. 07 2010 02:13 PM
Bruce from Manhattan

Perhaps you're not aware that on Oct 30 in the Philadelphia Macy's, 650 folks from various local choral groups sang the Hallelujah chorus with the world's largest pipe organ (yes, in a dept store!) as accompaniment. Billed as "A Random Act of Culture," it was quite stirring ...

Dec. 07 2010 02:11 PM
Karl from Long Island City

Like the message itself, it takes us by surprise! I think it was great.

Dec. 07 2010 02:07 PM
Silversalty from Brooklyn

It's a flash mob! Those wacky Canadians. A "happening," as they used to call it in the hippy dippy days.

But as has been noted .. Ah. Never mind.

Where was Jeff Buckley?

Dec. 07 2010 01:38 PM

Maybe, just maybe, if people took the time to stop and listen to the music, this would be a better world, with less hatred and animosity. Good music is never intrusive.

Dec. 07 2010 01:06 PM

This video gave my spirits a much-needed lift!

Dec. 07 2010 12:26 PM
MIchael Meltzer

A mall dining room isn't exactly private space, so privacy shouldn't be a primary issue.
Opera is fantasy, can be fun, one can enjoy it or grin and bear it, if it's for a short time.
Unsolicited religious material is highly intrusive and can be easily taken as objectionable. It crosses the line.

Dec. 07 2010 12:02 PM

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