I realized I hadn’t written anything on here since early November, when work was rather busy and I was sitting on my little stool at the Meyerhoff in Baltimore, listening to the chorus sing. So much has happened since then, that it’s time for me to try to wrap up what’s gone on in 2011. Please feel free to read all five C’s and the F blogs.
The first blog will be about my Carnegie Hall experience.
Ok – This was exciting. We did two performances with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore and everyone was very impressed with the children, the production and the entire experience, but to take the whole show on the road to Carnegie Hall was another experience. Since singers from Peabody Conservatory and from the Preparatory were going, we got to see 4 of our alumni in the older group. It was nice to see that students from the Children’s Chorus had continued on to the Conservatory, and good for the kids to know they can continue on in their studies if they choose to.
We were only taking 20 children – which after the 80+ we took to Italy felt like vacation! – so I had two extra chaperons; one parent and Jenny. We rode up on our assigned bus, having fun riding in the back and partaking in an M&M party with a few of the singers.
As we got closer to the City, cameras came out. We waded our way through the traffic to our hotel, The Manhattan at Times Square. We were told that it wasn’t a “fancy” hotel, but it certainly wasn’t horrible! Since we were early, we had to wait a bit to check-in, even though our call time at the theater was rapidly approaching. As I was tapping my fingers on the marble counter top, I was introduced to a gentleman who was acting as the tour director. He was a very pleasant man from South Africa named Johan. He seemed a bit surprised that I was at the counter checking in my group, but I have never done it any other way, so it seemed natural to me to be taking care of business on my own.
We eventually got our keys, but it meant that a mad dash was made to drop items in our rooms and have the kids pack up their uniforms for our walk up to Carnegie Hall. I took the lead and headed up the street, feeling the trail of people behind me. It was a bit strange to know you had this train of excited kids following you, exactly like it was through the airports in London and Rome.
Everyone was a bit put off by the olfactory attributes of New York City. (It stinks!) But even the scaffolding surrounding Carnegie Hall couldn’t dampen the spirits of our singers. We went in through our stage door entrance, and found our way to a rehearsal space. We claimed a corner and the boss set out to warm up voices and give a few instructions. We still had a bit of time before we were supposed to go on, but she wanted to be sure we were good for rehearsal. While the kids ran through their scales and did their motions, most of the adult choir took advantage and warmed up with them. That was a different experience to hear the familiar light voices doing their exercises yet punctuated with mature voices doing the same vocal stretching.
We were told we needed to scurry down to backstage to await our entrance, but since it was a full rehearsal, we weren’t needed for much of the first 30 minutes of the piece, so we got to sit in the hall and watch the rehearsal. That was pretty cool. The kids were excellent audience members, and it gave me some time to realize that I was sitting in Carnegie Hall! It’s a gorgeous space with excellent acoustics. No wonder it’s one of the best venues to play!
After our rehearsal time, we took the kids back to our holding pen to have dinner and change into their uniforms, but before they suited up, we went for a little jaunt around the block to get a picture under the marquee with the poster announcing the show in it. I knew it was right around the corner, but the kids were so excited, a walk wasn’t a bad idea.
What do you get when you take a group of very talented, warmed-up-and-ready-to-go performers for a walk around the block in New York City on a chilly evening just before the holidays? You get the most joyous train of music following your lead. These children LOVE to sing and they love to share their music whenever they can, so they ran through most of their repertoire from the upcoming Winter Concert on their way around the town. People stopped and watched as we skipped, loped and laughed our way back to the marquee and there wasn’t one person that didn’t bust out in a smile as we went by wafting music and happiness in our wake. I know Carnegie is a big deal, but I think for me, that was the BEST experience. I love those kids. :0)
Picture having been taken, we went back to our rehearsal space and “showed” the adult choir how to change into your uniform in a public place while still being discreet and then settled in at the Steinway to entertain each other while we waited for our cue.
Hubby and I escorted the 20 jumbles of nerves backstage when they were supposed to be there and then sat on the steps “on call” in case we were needed. Since our little professionals were fine, Hubby took the time to catch a cat nap before we were to take on Times Square.
The kids exited the stage to thunderous applause and after navigating and massive crush of people backstage, we were on our way back to our hotel to change and then wander Times Square a bit.
Somehow, Hubby and I ended up without kids – so we walked around and took photos before heading back to the hotel for bed check.
The next morning was a surreal and bizarre scene when bagged breakfasts were delivered outside of the hotel for both the adult and children’s chorus. 200 bags of food labeled with a first name and last initial were lined up along the sidewalk in front of the hotel with the thought that everyone would go out and pick up their food. Hubby and I found as many of the bags for our students as we could, but Hubby thought it was strange that we were foraging for food from paper bags on the streets of New York City.
After breakfast we walked a few students over to see Rockefeller Plaza and the Avenue of the Americas before boarding our bus for home, which was a quiet ride, with most of us dozing.