Posted in Musings and Mutterings

The Pain Full Tour

Bakery in France

Or so I refer to my recent France excursion. The primary reason is that the French word for bread is pain, pronounced “pen” but without the N, however every time I look at that, all I can read is pain – as in- OUCH!

Having reduced (to nothing) my bread consumption prior to the tour, you would think I’d be ecstatic to do nothing but nosh on French croissants all the time! However, having an allergy to onions, meant that at some meals, the bread was all there was to eat. So, while I do love me some bread and butter, existing on bread and water and butter isn’t as much fun as you’d like to believe.

Still, it was food, and I was in France, so….

So, I should have been satisfied. And, I think for the main part I was satisfied. For most involved, the trip was a true success! The kids sang at La Madeleine and took part in a Mass at Notre Dame and did a very moving concert in the American Cemetery near Omaha Beach.

Forgive the wind noise!!

I went into this trip pretty darned stressed to get it all done before getting on the plane. The combination of a heavier than usual Spring Concert season and an increased work load, meant that I was scrambling to finish and make sure everything professionally, and personally, was in place before I left. Thus, I wasn’t very relaxed from the get-go. And, yes, I am in a foreign country seeing wonderful things, but I’m also working. With 13 chaperones and 78 children, there’s always something that needs a decision, direction or action. So, one pre-frazzled chorus manager ended up being a fairly frazzled chorus manager on tour.

Note le pain on my plate. Also note, double espresso was my friend...
Note le pain on my plate. Also note, double espresso was my friend…

Don’t get me wrong, there were some good times, and I saw some awesome things. Most of which were muted by whatever was going on, but still…

For example, we went to the Louvre, but had to wait for our turn to get in. Most groups wandered the shops that are underground near the entrance to the museum, but one group wanted to take the time to go over to the “lock” bridge.

Lock Bridge P1090212

(The “lock bridge” is a place where lovers place a lock, with their initials written on it, on the bridge rails and then toss the key into the river Seine.)

As the time to enter the museum drew closer and all groups began to arrive to the meeting point, this group found itself on the surface without a way to get back to where we were. I sent the other groups into the Louvre and ended up going topside with our tour guide to figure a way for this group to be admitted. Once they were in, we raced to see the Mona Lisa (she’s really kinda small, actually) and then we were free to enjoy the remaining hour or so in the museum.

Little Lisa

The Louvre. In an hour or so. Um, NOT happening.

So, Hubby and I decided we’d sort of do our usual cruising of the building, while keeping our eyes peeled for anyone who might be misplaced.

I think we looked at 3 paintings before my phone rang and I was told that two students were no longer with their group, and had last been seen on the floor we were on. Which means that all the art on the walls, much like my experience in the Sistine Chapel for similar reasons, ended up being a blur of color with an occasional glimpse of something that really caught my eye while I scanned the crowds for a familiar person in the “colour du jour” purple t-shirt.

On the job....

Truly, I’m not complaining, although it sounds like it. It’s just work! It’s my job! Sure, I get to do my job in some pretty awesome places, but the end all and be all is that I’m working it, dude! And it can be draining at times.

Now, that being said. The chaperones were outstanding this time and I was so impressed with how well everyone did. Overall, it was a resounding success, so this makes me happy!

Chaperones(See all the kids frolicking in the background?)

Another thing that makes me happy? The boss turned to me during the Farewell dinner and said, “How about we learn to waltz while in Austria?” To which I said, “I’m game if you are!”

So guess where we are going in 2015? Blood and Roses, here we come…


Posted in Musings and Mutterings

The Mechanics of Human Tetris – 58

So much for my thought that I would keep up in here…for that matter, so much for my thoughts of keeping up at all.

Although, there is no alternative, is there?

Today, I’m feeling a little beaten up by work. And I think, is it work or is it me beating me up? Even with the help of 4 parents to help run the show, I’m still feeling a bit behind.

I got an email this morning because my rosters are a week behind in being updated online. A parent was frustrated that her daughter was showing an absence she knew she’d made up. The child got the credit for the rehearsal in my paper roster, but the online one the boss sees just wasn’t my top priority. Ticketing (Human Tetris) 3 venues for upcoming performances was.

This year it seems that everyone and their brother had some kind of conflict, which resulted in hours of emails and a spreadsheet of people’s specific schedules that requires massive scrolling to get through. It required two people to check and recheck programs to be sure each singer was on the correct program for the correct venue and that all names were spelled properly. All this switching around also means that seating charts and reserved seating for performers be arranged and only after that is done can I begin to assign seats to guests.

The moans and groans I hear from families who don’t get front and center seats is depressing. I literally worked 3, 18 hour days to complete ticketing. I look at vocal parts and seat parents opposite their child’s section in the chorus so they can see their kid sing. With the size of our largest chorus creating a U shape on our stage, I take special care to be sure everyone has a good seat. I weed through the graduating singers and place their guests in prime seating since it’s their last concert. I make sure every person who writes a special request for a certain seat due to a certain ailment gets exactly what they want, and I seat families with small children closer to the stage so their parents can see their little faces, and older singer’s families are mid theater to the back so the booming sound of our larger singers easily reaches their families in the farthest rows. Why a parent of the older singers would even want to sit in the front rows is beyond me. Do the dynamics of sound not enter their thoughts? This beautiful music would shoot right over their heads and they’d miss the subtlety of the harmonious joining of voices and instead hear the individual strong voices of the singers.

I know that most people haven’t a clue as to what I do and for the most part, it’s not necessary that they do. As long as they are enjoying the experience, then that’s the goal. But when I feel I’ve given such a large effort to help create a positive experience and the only thing I hear is complaining… well… even this happy camper can feel a bit kicked.

However! Today is a new day and I understand that you choose the way you feel. Perhaps I should look at my care in seating with a sense of accomplishment instead. I essentially did what normally takes me a week to do in 3 days and I got programs out despite changes and I got the France chaperons started on their paths – since we leave in 58 days – and I got proposals for the next trip in 2015 to ponder. I answered hundreds of emails, sent mass mailings out about changes and reminders for performances and I scheduled over 200 students for their vocal checks/re-auditions. I even successfully navigated another off-site performance with dubious weather and tricky logistics this past week. So on the whole, I feel my workload this week has been handled pretty damn well. And for the next person who complains about a seat that’s slightly to the left, I may just direct them to this blog so they can see that left of center isn’t the worst place to be.

Posted in Musings and Mutterings

Rave-ing Mushrooms

Awhile back I stumbled across a piece about the Electric Daisy Carnival. At the time I thought it had been a one-off kind of event and didn’t pay it much mind. Then, this past summer, I happened to see a short documentary on cable and realized that this one-off event had become a multi-city, multi-day event. After watching the documentary, I commented to Hubby, “I think I’d go to that.”

Let’s just say he was pretty shocked, since I haven’t agreed to go to a live concert in more years than I care to admit. If it wasn’t a performance done by, or involving, the children’s chorus I don’t want to go. I’m not a huge fan of live events mostly because of the audience. The screaming and hooting and general disruptive behavior of a fan “enjoying” the concert is not something I usually can come to grips with. Sitting quietly and giving your full attention to the art the musician is performing is generally my preference. Live concerts (unless you are at a symphony, maybe) aren’t normally so tame.

I think I may have found my mid-ground. If I’m not confined to a specific seat and can find a place to observe from, noisy fans don’t seem to bother me so much. Now how odd is that?

This past weekend, I decided I’d take a page from my Electric Daisy Carnival interest and jump in to see if I really could put that on my “bucket list” by going to an Infected Mushroom concert/event at a local performance venue. Aside from Infected Mushroom, there were 3 other DJ’s that were there to whip the crowd into shape.

I’m pretty sure I was the oldest person in attendance, but honestly, does that matter? Well, maybe. If by wearing a sweater and a pair of jeans, you are WAY overdressed – even if it is only 35 degrees outside, it might be time to re-think my attire for the next time I go to one of these. Surely a t-shirt wouldn’t have been out of line.  I’d like to say that many of the females attending this were conservative dressers. The thing they were conserving was the use of FABRIC!!

Girls looked pretty much like this
And guys looked like this.. :0)

Still, I found myself reveling in how much fun these people were having and how they didn’t seem to care that some of them were walking around in banana suits, or Mario costumes, or had made a version of chain mail from glow sticks. They were just out to have fun and I found that infectious.

Things I discovered:

  1. I loved the high energy of the music and the crowd.
  2. I am totally into a rave…. if I’m on the sidelines in a fairly safe place. (almost oxymoronic, eh?)
  3. I had fun!

Infected Mushroom put on a good show, although it was only an hour long and I would have liked to have had more of them and less of the 1st official DJ, but still and all. The thumping, the jumping, the ability to watch – not participate – in a mosh pit, and watching body surfing was quite an experience. When I had entered the venue, I had seen signs posted forbidding body surfing, which I snickered at because really…. who does that kind of thing!? Well, silly me, of course that happens. Why else would they need a sign forbidding it? And I guess if the experience of traveling about 20-30 feet while 5-6 feet above ground with people’s hands all over you is worth your price of admission (’cause trust me, they haul you outta there FAST once they see you up there) then so be it. I mean, if people get a kick out of jumping from a bridge with a rubber band attached to their feet, then who am I to question body surfing??

I think the best part of my night was the clash of my two loves; The Chorus and Electronica.

When I first got there, I bumped into one of the chorus kids. He was dressed as I would have expected him to be. He said hello, gave me a big hug and told me his friend likes this “stuff” and that he’d come with him. I know he was surprised to see me there, especially since I tell him to button his tux shirt and straighten his tie for concerts, but he seemed comfy enough. It took him two DJ’s before he lightened up enough to do the simple flat handed arm wave that seems to be the preference of dance/electronica.

How I usually see students...
How I usually see students…

The other student I bumped into when we were going for our coats after the performance. She was wearing a fairly skimpy outfit in comparison with what I normally see her in and you could tell she’d been right down in the mix, jumping and pumping her arm and enjoying the show. She came up a bit short when she saw me and her eyes got about as big as saucers before she mumbled a hello and turned on the turbo charge to leave. Lol. Poor thing. I think I shocked the hell out of her. S’ok. She’s going to France with us, so maybe we can exchange a few mp3’s and talk about different bands.

Finally, when I went to rehearsal this past week, I was relating my weekend to some of the ladies who wait in the foyer. I hadn’t seen so many jaws hit the floor in years. Why is it so hard to think that just because my JOB is all about classical music and formality, that I wouldn’t enjoy something a bit rowdy like a rave? I mean.. c’mon!! lol (actually, I understand completely, but it kinda tickles me that I’ve not become pigeon-holed by what “people your age” are supposed to be into) I’m finding more and more I’m happy to follow this line of thinking!