Tour Day 8
Day eight of our tour, day two in Des Moines. We had two workshops today, our last two of this tour. First we visited Waukee High School, and heard A cappella, the school’s top auditioned ensemble. They sensitively performed Earth Song by Frank Ticheli, with beautiful and technically proficient singing. We learned after they sang that the piece had been written for Dr. Miller when he conducted the California All-State Chorus – small world!
Next we were off to Urbandale HS, whose students also shared some wonderful music with us. It will often happen that a workshop or host church/community will feed us after a workshop or before a performance. I always feel very loved during these meals, because of the effort spent by compete strangers to put food on our plates. It is true what Dr. Miller says – we always sing better after we eat!!
Once the workshops were over, we headed back to downtown Des Moines for a free evening. Mary Hewlett, an alto in the choir and also my roommate, insisted that Hyatt Place (our hotel) had absolutely the best cookies and before anything else happened, we needed to try these. Once procured, we sat for a few moments in the hotel room and savored the warm Reese’s and chocolate chip cookie. I was skeptical – I mean, a cookie is a cookie, right? WRONG. This was in fact a culinary experience worth noting, and now, thinking of it again, my mouth is watering.
Michael Bennett, a tenor in WC, found a nearby ice skating rink and a large group headed down to glide around for the rest of the afternoon. Some of the choir members, like Matt Brady and Nicole Fragala, were at home on skates and sailed around the rink like natives. Many of the singers had never been on skates before, including our resident diva, Justin Su’esu’e. He and a few other beginners got a lesson in how to ‘pizza’ (forming a wedge with the tips of the skates to slow down) and ‘french fry’ (holding the skates parallel to move forward). Armed with new skills, the beginners enjoyed a new experience, cheered on by about 20 of their fellow choristers.
After we had been out for about an hour, we decided to take a group photo to commemorate our time in Des Moines. There was a woman standing on the outside of the rink who gestured to Katy Lushman, the graduate assistant conductor for WC. She recognized Katy from the concert we had given last night, and was thrilled to talk to members of the choir about the music. In no time at all, she was surrounded by the singing skaters (skating singers?), and seemed to delight in the chance to meet the choir in this surprising way.
After skating, I went for a quiet dinner with Mary. We treated ourselves to a beautiful meal at Alba, and as we walked back to the hotel, passed by many of our friends who were all headed out to Lime (a local hotspot). While about half of the choir enjoyed a quiet evening at the hotel, the other half were out dancing and merry-making. It has been true throughout this tour that whenever the choir dances together, our collective musicianship is strengthened. It is easy to feel a communal backbeat in Kalinda (a Haitian dance piece on our program) when you have six hours previously been grooving to Kesha.