We recently attended a performance of Handel’s Messiah by the Philharmonia Choir of Cape Town. My key sense misled me a few times in arias in sharp keys, especially pushing E major up into F. ‘My Redeemer liveth’ in F major, for example. At the end of Part 2 we all stood for the Hallelujah Chorus as is traditional. I did not think about its key (bright D major) throughout its choral and fugal excitement. No need to – not a hint of a shift. Likewise for Blessing and Honour, the penultimate chorus. Attacca into the glorious climax of the repeated amens. The Amen chorus progressively winds up the tension towards a top A for the sopranos. Long before that high moment I was aware of the ground shifting. Yes, the chorus was now in E flat major, a magnificent heroic key in its own right. I tried to enjoy the amens in their new colours. Think Berlioz Requiem, think Eroica, Schumann Rhenish, I exhorted myself. But was no good. I need full on D major to end Messiah happily, grandly, triumphantly.