January 17, 2013

Tour Day 9

Another early morning on the bus, and this time we are headed to Galesburg, Ill., for a concert at Central Congregational Church.  This is a lengthier bus ride, and a perfect time for our driver Rich to get a few more fake parking tickets (there is one from each section of the choir, and he is keeping them on the inside of the windshield.  This man loves a good prank!)  Overnight in Des Moines, some plastic moustaches were placed strategically on the side mirrors.  I didn’t do it, though I appreciated the mastermind behind them.  I had to swear to Rich that it wasn’t me, and I am fairly certain he didn’t believe me.  The best part about these bus pranks, though, is that different people execute each one so hopefully I will never be hog-tied!

Life on the bus is crowded: at any given time about a third of the choir is sleeping, a third is reading, and the rest are chatting happily.  We watch movies, and deciding on what to view is quite the production.  This year, our resident funny man Michael Bennett was the man in charge of the movies.  He is one of those very talented individuals with expert comedic timing and inflection – you listen to him speak and you are just waiting to laugh.  We watch episodes of Planet Earth for when we want something quiet, comedies like Bridesmaids on long stretches or road, and serious films like Beasts of the Southern Wild to keep up on our Best Picture nominees. 

There is another WC bus tradition, and that is the BBC (‘Back of the Bus Chorale’).  This is a joyous crew at the rear has a couple major functions – make everyone laugh, and start the Amen chorus at the end of our tour, but more on that on day eleven. 

Although there is a no-singing rule on the bus, we do it all the time.  We spent a little while reliving our favorite moments from Kepler, the Philip Glass opera that we premiered last summer in Spoleto, complete with vocalized orchestral parts.  It was sweet and nostalgic to sing the soundtrack of last summer, and it made us all excited for Spoleto 2013, and another month of singing, eating, and playing in Charleston, S. C.

Before our concert in Galesburg, we were treated to another tasty homemade meal with some of the tastiest molasses cookies I have ever had.  They tasted just like butter and love – mmmm!  After eating, we went to our respective dressing rooms.  The women all do each other’s hair, and some of the creations executed are really stunning.  I missed out on this part this year, since I have to wear my hair in the same fashion for every concert so that it matches one of the funny pictures in our French set (if you have seen the concert, you will know what I mean!  If you haven’t, I will talk through the set when I write about our Homecoming concert). 

Singing in the Central Congregational Church was wonderful – the stained glass windows were absolutely beautiful!  Dr. Miller gave us some words before we sang – he said ‘someone here tonight needs this,’ and that is true every time we sing, every place we go.  With this little extra bit of love in our hearts, we sang a great concert.


We were hosted by Knox College and the Galesburg Community Chorus, and we were split into groups for homestays, and I, for reasons that will follow, was so very thankful for my last name.  A couple from Monmouth, Ill., was unable to host students at their home, so instead sponsored three to stay at The Great House, a local bed and breakfast in a historic house built in 1856.  Legend says that it was also a stop on the Underground Railroad.   Sylvia, the secretary of the Community Chorus, was responsible for determining the homestays and had no idea how to choose who would stay at the B & B.  She saw the last name ‘Saul’ (mine), and since her maiden name was Saul, she thought that was as good a way as any to decide.  So it was me, the person listed above me (Mary), and the person listed below me (Allie), both dear and wonderful friends, who got to stay in this lovely place.

When we arrived at the Great House, we were greeted with music.  A couple from Springfield, Ill., had driven the two hours to hear our concert.  She was an organist and was playing the piano in the music room to welcome us.  Betty, the owner, gave us a tour of house with its many historic artifacts and lovely room after lovely room.  Mary and Allie and I were up late at the piano, singing folksongs in three-part harmony and taking pictures in the various spaces.  We slept fitfully in the Jefferson room, and woke to an elaborate breakfast with fresh fruit, homemade praline French toast, fresh juice, and delicious coffee.  It was far too short a time to spend in such an excellent space, and the next time you are in Galesburg, this should be your first stop.  


About Westminster Choir

Westminster Choir is composed of students at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, a center for music study in Princeton, N.J.
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