Tour Day 1
Hello, Wisconsin! The Westminster Choir has arrived for our Midwest tour, and it is going to be a great one!
We met in the WCC Playhouse for a pre-tour, brush-up rehearsal yesterday (Tuesday). It was so nice to sing together after a restful holiday break, and of course there was a special choir prank to welcome us all back into the spirit of the ensemble. One of the pieces on our tour program, En Une Seule Fleur by Morten Lauridsen, begins with the chord which, when the pitches are sung consecutively, form the first measure of The Tennessee Waltz. Dr. Miller, a native of east Tennessee, brought this to our attention way back in September during our retreat as the piece has special meaning and immediately came to mind when he heard those particular notes. Michael Bennett, a tenor in the choir and graduate student in composition, arranged The Tennessee Waltz over the winter holiday, and sent music to every choir member.
It just so happened that the first piece we rehearsed on Tuesday morning was the Lauridsen. The only element of the prank we were worried about was the physical piece of paper that The Tennesse Waltz was printed o, and how to sneak it out since the Lauridsen has been memorized since October. Luckily, Dr. Miller wanted us to refer to the text as we rehearsed to refresh our diction and phrasing choices, and so the stage was set! He gave the pitches, and we, grinning, launched into the Waltz. After a flash of confusion and a quick glance at the Lauridsen score, Dr. Miller grinned right back at us. Michael gave him a copy of the piece, and we went immediately back to rehearsal.
Our bus call was 6:30 this morning, and we drove to the Philadelphia airport. Acquiring boarding passes and passing through security went smoothly (no easy task for a group of 45), and we squeezed into a tiny plane. There were three people in the entire cabin who were not associated with the choir, and the ENTIRE tenor section occupied the back rows. Our flight attendant, Lynn, had a great sense of humor about the gentlemen’s guild, and before the requisite safety presentation, actually cut them off using a conducting gesture. Like the well-trained musicians they are, they obliged instantly.
We landed in Milwaukee, settled into our hotel, and went out to feed before meeting at Calvary Presbyterian (The Big Red Church) for a lengthy, productive, and fun rehearsal. The sanctuary had a pleasing echo and was a lovely place to sing. When we were through, of course it was time to eat again. The choir split into groups, and a table-full of us went to Alem Ethiopian Village for a delicious, familial meal and a walk down Water Street in downtown Milwaukee. Then it was (relatively) early to bed, early to rise. Bus call at 7:30 am for our first high school workshop tomorrow!