So, it's Day One of our great adventure...
We began this morning bright, but not terribly early at about 8:30 at LR packing and ready to roll. For those of you that have not been on a choir tour, or those for whom it has been a long time since you have been on a choir tour, the packing process before leaving can be a bit stressful. It is important that everyone pitch in. Luckily, this morning, everyone helped. There were some tempers flaring when people found themselves in seats that they found less than desirable. However, we got on the road and everything calmed down.
We made our way through western NC and eastern TN and had a great lunch at Arby's (or some other restaurant in a strip of restaurants). After eating, some of us, feeling adventurous decided to cross four lanes of traffic to visit a pawn shop. This endeavor was a bit more stressful than we had imagined when we started out. Nonetheless, we made it across both times with no one hurt.
We got back on the bus at about 1pm and made our way to Oak Ridge, TN. Much to our surprise, we made it here at 2:10pm. Our itenerary had instructed us to begin rehearsing at 3:30pm. What were we to do with all the extra time? Well, we felt that some extra rehearsal may serve us well, so we rehearsed. It is amazing the amount of energy that we all have at this point--at THIS point. It will be funny to see this group in about 3 days and see their energy level. A lot of conversations and laughs are had, most of the time, at the wrong time, but somehow we figured out how to get some rehearsal in.
We broke for some break time. Some of us slept, some sang, and others gossipped or read their Bibles, and others dissussed the development of the Russian economy post-1991... well, maybe not. After this, it was time for dinner. The dinner consisted of soup and sandwiches, which for most of us hit the spot, as it were.
The concert began with a burst of energy with Distler's Praise to the Lord. From there we sang Heilig by Mendelssohn and sweetly carressed the lines of Palestrina's Sicut Cervus. There was a lot of good singing in that first set. However, I must admit that it was in the music making of this first set that I got to thinking. We were singing Rachmaninoff's Borgoroditse Devo from All Night Vigil (1910) and I was moved. I got to thinking that it is music that can preserve a sense of unity over many generations. It must be the Holy Spirit's work that does this. We can sing a work that might have been sung in Berlin in the 19th century or St. Petersburg in the 20th century by people with needs not too unlike ours, with dreams not so far from ours, with hopes of living a good life and making good music. We are connected through music to all the people who have performed the work in the same way that we have. Each time we sing a piece, we are reliving a memory that we don't even know we have. When we sing Weber's Arise, Shine we are singing in a deep way with the first group that performed it. What makes this special is that we bring our unique approach to it that is different although not better or worse than the group that has previously performed a work. In each performance, we are realizing something that was in someone's head at one time... something that was only a thought, but has become something real, with connecting power unlike anything else.
Our enthusiasm in this vein was evident in our performing of O Day Full of Grace. I have to say, Dr. Weber, you would have said this was the "alumni version" but I think you would have been pleased. The choir was so thrilled in the singing of this piece that by the time we got to the third verse we were in the key of E-flat, and boy did the basses know it. It ended with such charisma that I couldn't help but chuckle.
The concert ended with grace and charm and we made our way to change and be assigned to host families. Speaking of host families, I must go and see what mine is up to. We are off to Franklin, TN tomorrow and hopefully there will be some connection so that you can hear from me again. If you don't, I promise something good for Sunday! This is all for now... stay tuned.