Handel’s Coronation Anthem, in three movements.
just back in december i had the opportunity to collaborate on the Briercrest Christmas Celebration as a Vison Team member and contributing artist. My task was to listen to the music selections, and to put something on to 3 large screens, that would sit behind the choir and be the entire backdrop for the Celebration.
Paired with our lighting design, there would be no decoration in the gigantic modern hildebrand chapel. It was a new direction for the Christmas Celebration, so the stakes were high.
I chose to complete animations in Apple’s Motion for the screens, treating them as one large surface.
The night opened with Handel’s Coronation Anthem, and i listened to it endlessly.
When it came time to assign imagery, the song, more than any other in the Celebration spoke itself into a story in my mind.
All i could see when i heard the piece was the Biblical Creation Account, Genesis 1-2. I saw the hebrew words (i studied ancient-hebrew in college) and the complex ideas show in their ancient script that is lost to our roman alphabet. I saw colors and the flow of creation and redemption, as told from long ago.
the first movement jumps and is full of a wandering and busy Joy, i see the rainbow split from threads from the darkness, circling out and sizing out the seen spectrum. the spectrum breaks into deeply contrasting lights as light and dark are created. A cloud and blue of day, a black and red for night. the white of cloud, the dark coffee-bean brown of soil and the clear highlights of water come together until the earth floats in the stars and in the song takes us at the end of the movement to a grove a trees that fall behind us as we move through the deep of them.
It all gets dark and blue for the second movement, and we see adam and eve, happy and in white, against the sad movement that already has let out the news of their fated fall from joy and grace. they are in love and soon, as the choir’s song vamps, they are ashamed and blaming, and running.
the end of the second movement they are caught under the eye of a powerful God.
The third movement is moving through the trees again only now they are winter white and spring is breaking through and all turns green and gold.
This is the royal end and the redemption and reuniting of adam and eve, and God and humanity.
The song is such a story, with beginning middle and end, and my interpretation likely will never leave me, despite anything Handel ever intended.
If it’s a coronation, it is the story of the prodigal son who returns home after taking his father’s inheritance before he dies and squandering it- only for his father to throw the greatest of feasts for him and setting a crown on his head.