While we were driving from Granville towards one of our favorite unusual structures ( in Akron), we were lucky to view this even more famously unusual structure - it's the home of the Longaberger company which makes ---baskets.... You have to love it!
More mid-western lore: our destination was the Quaker Square Inn hotel whose pr says 'sleep in a silo' which is because this is actually a conversion of the silos where the Quaker Oats were stored and went to and fro on the train (which stops right beside it.) All the rooms in the building are circular - Matt especially likes returning to his room in the round on our every couple of year appearances for Tuesday Musical Association in Akron.
Another eye-catching structure right near the hotel is the Museum of Art with the new part leaning on the old part. But we digress... We came to Akron at the invitation of another old and august Akron cultural organization - the Tuesday Musical Association -for a three-day residency which started on the day of our arrival with an evening session at the public library for two choirs which came some distance to work with us.
The following day composer Mason Bates (who had come with us) and Matt gave a session at an Open Forum on the Creative Process. That evening we had our concert - a 2400 person sellout, including 900 kids in the balcony who sent masses of energy at us. Many of the high school choristers who would attend the Youth Choral Festival the next day were there. That was great, and we really appreciate Tuesday Musical's efforts to get students to the concerts - ours and others. This is the E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall at the University of Akron.
Mason and Matt gave a pre-concert chat which was very well attended, and enabled the audience to learn a bit about Mason's piece "Sirens" which we sang for the first time outside of the Bay Area at this concert.
Then the big day arrived when we would spend all day with six high school choirs and their directors singing and learning together. Kenmore, Revere, Copley, Firestone, and Coventry High schools, plus Our Lady of the Elms came along - altogether close to 300 singers! We'll say up front that we had a wonderful day - the choirs were exceptionally well-prepared ( especially for so early in the school year), accomplished and receptive - and nice! It was great. We start out singing for everybody and then proceed to a warm up together and a reading of the tutti pieces we'll sing at the concert - Eric Barnum's "She walks in Beauty" ( which we're proud to say was the 2003 winner of our student composer competition,) and Wana Barata - a lively Kenyan song which gave a celebratory end to the evening.
After a morning's work together we get to have lunch with the choir directors.
Then after lunch the choirs sing their own pieces which we listen to attentively to see how we may try to help in the workshop sessions which follow.
For a 12 hour day, it goes by quickly, and soon we're rehearsing again for the evening performance, including the technicality of getting all 300 of us onto the stage.
An enthusiastic crowd of friends and family and members of the Tuesday Musical Association came to cheer us on at the evening concert. We sang, the choirs all sang their own pieces, and we all sang together.
One of the choir directors asked how it is that we take so much time out of a pretty busy schedule to spend with high schoolers. That's easy: we were those kids, not so long ago.
Thanks again to all the singers who came and worked so hard, to their terrific directors Barbara Bellamy, Deb Devore, Basil Kochan, Sally Schneier, Sheila Hutzler, and Julie Strebler -we enjoyed meeting them all. And especially to Barbara Feld and the Tuesday Musical Association for bringing us again, and for organizing all the surrounding events - particularly this Youth Choral Festival - AND to the John S. and James Knight Foundation which helped make it possible. We hope we'll be back!