Even though we're seriously embarked upon our Christmas season, we couldn't resist the invitation from the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, to take a small break from Christmas prep, give a concert, sing a song with the University Glee Club, and lend Fred to give a talk as part of their Symposium on a capella singing. It happens that the first half of our Heart of a Soldier program ( particularly moving to give on Veterans' Day) ends with a chorus from Jennifer Higdon's "Cold Mountain" written to be sung by many more male voices than 12. Jennifer adapted it for us, but we were thrilled to sing the real thing with the Glee Club men. The day started- also in the beautiful l913 Hill Auditorium- with an hour of singing and explaining things for 1400 students who came from all over - some an hour away. They were a great audience, as was the evening crowd. We have a long and happy history with the University Musical Society, and we hope it will go on and on.
Zach ( in his first year of experiencing such things) recounts:
We were all glad to come together again last night - after separate travel trajectories from Ft Wayne -for the last concert of this tour in Westerly, RI. A homemade meal and the sense of relief of being together for this concert was all we needed after early morning flights in middle seats, and then the drive to Rhode Island! The concert Itself went off without a hitch, lulling us into a false sense that our world had returned to normal.
We went into our dressing room at intermission to find airline notifications that our departing flight from Providence, RI to Newark, NJ the next day was cancelled, implying also that we had a good chance of missing our connecting flight to San Francisco. At that point all we could do was laugh about it, go back on stage and finish the program for our extraodinarily receptive audience. I am sure that the mysterious cake that showed up on the table helped take some of the edge off! By the time we had met and greeted the audience post concert, and gone back to the hotel we all had new travel arrangements thanks to the magic that was worked by both Brian and Curt (again!).
Emotions during these sagas range from dejection to elation!
Coming home today in two groups, with enough time for us to enjoy a day off at home before starting rehearsals for Christmas. Hoping that we have worked off any bad travel karma which may have been waiting for us. We can't wait to begin Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend in Virginia.
This post might be filed with "Epically horrible travel days', or a day in the life of Tour manager Brian Hinman and Operations Manager Curt Hancock, What we will do to get to a concert, or Thank God this isn't happening during Christmas ( fingers crossed.)
On Wednesday we had a good time performing at Christ Presbuyterian Chuch in Canton, Ohio, The next day Thursday, we drove to Ft. Wayne, Indiana to perform in the First Presbyterian Church. Our Board member Elaine Snyder comes from Fort Wayne and had flown there to accompany her 97 year old aunt Zenda Bateman ( a fan of ours..) to the concert, along with brother Kenton, and cousin Amy. We're always happy to be in the heartland, where so many of us come from, and to meet the families of our staff, board, and fellow singers when they turn up. That was all very lovely indeed. The following day looked to be an odd but uneventual trajectory from Fort Wayne to Providence from which we would run out to Westerly, RI the next day for a 6pm concert. We'll just let you read Curt Hancock's report in his typically ( and much appreciated) phlegmatic voice:
Curt: the flight out of Ft. Wayne was canceled due to mechanical problems. It was connecting in Chicago, but even if they drove to Chicago they couldn’t have made the flight and the only option out of Chicago would have been a flight arriving Boston tomorrow at 2pm. And that would have been cutting it close. So I’ve booked nine of them on a Delta flight out of Detroit tomorrow at 7:20am (Detroit is only a couple of hours from Ft. Wayne). That arrives Boston at 9:15am, giving them plenty of time, as long as the flight’s on time, to get to Westerly. Unfortunately there weren’t enough seats on the nonstop to Boston so three of them are on a non-stop to Providence. But that doesn’t arrive Providence until 2:15pm. Still should be fine as long as it’s on time. The performance time in Westerly is unusually early, 6pm, giving us a little less flexibility with day-of flights. End of the story. Both flights arrived in time, and the performance in Westerly went on. Tomorrow we will fly home to San Francisco to begin preparation for Christmas - interrupted onlly by a run-out to Ann Arbor, MI to help celebrate the 200th anniversary of the U of Michigan Glee Club. That will be fun.
We were happy to be going back to W. Va, 25 years after Chanticleer had been there. It turned out to be a day for the books, here described and photographed by Andy and Zach.
Yesterday turned out to be livelier than expected. As we arrived in Parkersburg we learned very quickly that there had been an industrial fire at a plastics storage facility. The air was thick with smoke, an eerily similar situation to what we've been experiencing in San Francisco, although instead of smelling like a bonfire, this was the distinct smell of burning plastic.
As we were driving into town in a pretty heavy rain, we got word that the master class has been moved from the school to our concert venue. We were scheduled to work with a boys choir and the high school chamber singers. Upon arrival at the concert venue though, we found out that school has been canceled, another product of the fire. Only half of the boys choir was there and because of the cancellations, none of the high school choir had shown up. There were enough students and spectators though to be able to go on with the master class.
We worked with the boys choir for the full hour instead of splitting it half-and-half between the boys in the high school. Once one hour rolled around however, We heard that the high school choir was on its way over and would still love to have a master class if we would stay longer. We did feel bad that all of this was out of their control and we did have the time to stay a little longer, so we ended up working another full hour with the high school choir. The Parkersburg music program is the oldest in West Virginia and they definitely prove themselves to be very good. We really enjoyed our time with them.
At the evening concert, we felt that we were a welcome distraction to our audience in Parkserburg who were in the middle of a local disaster. in the Smoot Theater, an old vaudeville and movie theatre that was built in l926.
Home between tours, we fitted in some time today with the Palo Alto High School Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers, and the Homestead High School Choir from Cupertino in Palo Alto's almost new concert hall. Always a pleasure to work with Michael Najar's groups at PHS, and we were glad to meet the Homestead group for the first time. Their director, jeff Morton is a college friend of Alan. After a very good lunch Palo Alto was kind enough to provide us, we hit the freeway to go south to San Jose State University to see 70 member San Jose State Concert Choir.