TOUR DAY 1: We woke up VERY early (for musicians, that's any time before 9:00 a.m.) to get to the airport to fly to NYC. After a few minor issues with tickets, we reached the gate and ate a well rounded breakfast of airport food. Terribly healthy. Here's a pic of Gabby, Scott, Reggie and Vince curbside at MIA.The flight was smooth, but we were told at the end of the flight (after two failed landing attempts) that we might be re-directed to Washington DC, as the pilots could not see the runway in the fog. Ho-boy. Getting from DC to downtown Manhattan for an 8 p.m. concert? Visions of a mad scramble played through my head. Thankfully, on the 3rd attempt, we landed (2 hours late) at LaGuardia airport. Whew...
We jumped in our 4 rental cars (CARAVAN!!) and zoomed off to Manhattan. One of our board members, Daniel Perron, opened his apartment to us, and served us a MAGNIFICENT meal from NYC's Balthazar. Amazing pre-concert fuel, let me tell you. Here's a picture of the entire group after lunch:
We changed into concert black and headed 7 blocks south to the magnificent acoustics of the chapel at St. Bartholomew's Church in Midtown Manhattan. The crowd was enthusiastic, and the ensemble made Miami proud that night. One New Yorker said to us, "Wow...you guys should move to Manhattan--you could compete with any ensemble here!" Don't worry--no plans to move to Manhattan. We love Miami, and know that we couldn't take the cold!
That evening, we jumped in the vans and headed to Connecticut. We reached Branford at 1 am and settled in for 9 hours of sleep--the first we'd had in over a week.
TOUR DAY 2: The guys and gals spent the day in New Haven (Thai food anyone) and then met at Yale's Battell Chapel for an afternoon rehearsal and sound check. We were able to use the amazing balconies there for Victoria's double choir "Ave Regina Caelorum." Beautiful! Here is us in rehearsal:
That evening we went to the incomparable Yorkside Pizza (a haunt of mine when at Yale for grad school) for dinner with some of the students at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Maggie Brooks, head of the Yale choral program. That evening was spent with host families.
TOUR DAY 3: Another early start at 7:45 am! We left the New Haven Green, hyped up on cafine from Starbucks (unofficial mascot of Seraphic Fire). Packed into the vans early in the morning, everyone was a bit giddy--the first annual Seraphic Fire Tour Limerick contest ensued!
No one told me or Gabby that too much caffeine makes for much faster driving than usual. On the road to Syracuse, both Gabrielle and I were stopped for speeding. Argh! Here's a picture of Kathryn Mueller holding my ticket on the Mass Pike:
After slowing down to the speed limit, we eventually reached Syracuse and went directly to Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University for a quick soundcheck. Again, we were able to use the many balconies to create a surround sound effect for the concert. Awesome. This picture shows us during rehearsal. Tenor Derek Chester comments that we look like the Von Trapp children refusing to sing "The Hills are Alive" after Maria went back to the concert (we were tired, and the coffee was wearing off). Notice Paul Tipton's far-off gaze...
After a FANTASTIC concert (they wouldn't stop clapping!) we packed up and traveled over to Spirito, the marvelous home of Dr. Barbara Tagg, professor of choral music at Syracuse University and director of the fantastic Syracuse Children's Choir. Here are a James Bass, Derek Chester and Abigail Haynes Lennox at Spirito's Inspiration Point.
After an awesome reception, we went back to the hotel where we were treated to a serenade by Misty and Al Bermudez, backed up by the incomparable Paul Max Tipton:
TOUR DAY 4: Before half of the group left to fly home, the entire ensemble acted as a lab chorus while I gave a masterclass on conducting to the undergraduate students at Syracuse University. Bolstered by Starbucks (notice a theme) the Fire-ites sang through movements of Messiah, Haydn's Creation and Byrd's Ave Verum while I worked with some of the conductors. First, the choir at 8:30 am:
And then me with one of the conducting students:
Post-workshop, half of the ensemble flew back to their homes across the country, while the other half stayed and worked with the Syracuse Children's Choir. Our own managing director, Gabrielle Tinto, was a member of the Syracuse Children's Choir for many years.
One of the most memorable moments from this tour happened when Gabrielle Tinto led the senior choir in a version of "I Want to Sing My Own Song," a piece that is sung year after year by members of the choir. By the end of the piece, Dr. Tagg, Gabrielle, all the SCC members as well as the musicians from Seraphic Fire were all in tears. An unforgettable moment:
We had a great dinner afterward at Dinosaur Bar-B-Q in downtown Syracuse, then headed back to reality the next morning. Totally awesome. Totally awesome.