January 18, 2013

Tour day 10

This is our last day of tour with performances.  Tomorrow we will still be together, but only for the bus ride back to Princeton.  Tonight we are in Cincinnati for our final concert at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral.  Built in the Greek revival style between 1841 and 1845, this cathedral is unique with its ornate Corinthian columns, detailed Greek-themed mosaics and massive doors.  It felt like walking into an ancient temple, and was yet another wonderful space in which to sing.  Dr. Miller is an alumnus of the Cincinnati Conservatory, having received both his master’s degree and his doctorate from this institution.  Our assistant conductor, Katy Lushman, also attended, earning her bachelor’s degree.  The crowd was full of family and friends from all over the country, as well as local Ohioans. 

Our final concert was emotionally charged, especially during the last few pieces.  After the French set in the second half, we sing in our mixed formation.  I am in quartet 10, which is the darkest voices from each section.  To my right is one of my best friends in all of the world, Kyle Van Schoonhoven.  To my left is the gentle giant, Andrew Maggio.  Singing between these men with enormous voices is one of my favorite parts of the entire concert, especially when we sing Lullaby and The Heart’s Reflection by Daniel Elder.  Daniel, Kyle and I, along with a couple of others, spent a great amount of time together last summer in Charleston when we were at the Spoleto Festival USA.  To sing his music between Kyle and Andrew, and to share it with audiences on this tour has been deeply meaningful.  I couldn’t help it – during the last concert, I started to well up during the beginning of Lullaby, and I instinctively reached for Andrew and Kyle’s hands to stay in the moment and stay focused on the singing. 
Back at the hotel, changed out of concert dress and into another dressy outfit for the traditional Westminster Choir toast.  We have one of these at the very end of tour, and again at the end of our time at Spoleto.  We stand in a circle, and each person has the opportunity to give a brief toast.  Sometimes they are emotional, sometimes they are funny, and they are always memorable.  We also give paper plate awards for things like Biggest Diva (Justin Su’esu’e), Secret Genius (Christianna Barnard),  Tightest Pants (Myles Glancy).  There were almost as many choir members nominated as there were votes for Most Likely to Brighten Your Day and Most Huggable, but in the end these went to Sergey Tkachenko and Allison Miller, respectively. 

We took a moment to honor the seniors:  John Floyd, Josh Wanger, Shari Perman, Ryan Cassel, Katerina Nowick, and Johnny Wilson, and gave an honorable mention to first-year graduate student Matt Brady for working on luggage crew every morning, though he was only assigned a single day.  
The final award given was the Rookie Year MVP, for a male and female who is in the choir for the first time and is making outstanding contributions.  I think it says a lot about our ensemble that every single rookie received multiple votes, though Erinn Sensenig and Matt Brady were the ultimate recipients.

The toast ended, hugs were given all around.  We moved the party to Below Zero, a club about two blocks from the hotel and spent our final night out on a dance floor that was absolutely packed with choir members. 

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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