Sunday, August 19, 2012

On a Different Note

My summer started with an excursion to New York City for Memorial Day weekend - to sing at Carnegie Hall!

This was my third year singing with La Jolla Symphony Chorus, and when I found out that this summer's trip would be to Carnegie Hall, I knew I wanted to go. I missed the previous year trip to Ireland (couldn't afford it at the time), but it was clear this would be a once in a lifetime chance, and I'm so glad I participated!

A few weeks before the trip, we performed here in San Diego - singing the same piece we would be singing in NY - Benjamin Britten's Spring Symphony. It's really a lovely piece - in several parts - each a setting of a poem by a different poet - beginning with thawing of winter chill, and ending with what I thought of as drunken arpeggios. It is at times thoughtful and at others exuberant. It sounded good, I think, in Mandeville Auditorium where we normally perform - although we were on risers behind the orchestra, and I wish they had monitors because at times it was hard to hear the soloists over the orchestra.

But my oh my - singing at Carnegie Hall was a whole different experience. We had several rehearsals in NY - one on Friday morning at the hotel - out first chance to sing with some of the alumni who were joining us there. It went well. Saturday, we were bussed to Carnegie Hall for our dress rehearsal there. It was a little chaotic - 120 singers crammed into a rather small rehearsal space - we did a few warmup vocal exercises, and then onto the stage.

Everything I've heard about the incredible acoustics at Carnegie Hall is true!  Wow! The orchestra that played with us was superb and very professional (we were stunned to learn that they received the music that Thursday!) The soloists sounded marvelous.  For me, the only challenge was my feet - we stood the whole time, and in spite of wearing very sensible shoes, my feet were killing me.

Sunday night was the concert. Thankfully, we had a larger space to line up and prepare. Everything went smoothly, and the music began. We sounded better than we have ever sounded before. It was truly stunning - the pianissimos were delicate but oh so clear and the fortissimos - in one part, I could feel my whole face vibrating. Except for the tenor soloist skipping half of the last page, the whole thing was just superb.

If you enlarge this, I'm in the back row - second woman from the right (white blouses).

And what did I think of New York? I had such a wonderful time there, and really enjoyed seeing it, which caught be by surprise. I went there for a business trip when I was in my 20's, and did NOT care for Manhattan at all - found it scary and dirty and felt like I always needed to watch my back. Either I've changed, or NY has, or both. :-)

My friend and neighbor of almost 30 years - Cinda - was my roommate. We had a great time. We walked through Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We saw a show (Million Dollar Quartet, which was wonderful.) We visited the Empire State Building (the one thing I would skip on a future visit.) We walked and walked and walked!

Spring Symphony in NY made for a lovely transition to summer - a once in a lifetime experience that I'm so grateful for.

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