ON THE ROAD WITH TOUR CHOIR – VAIL #2
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Dear families and friends,
It is now Thursday afternoon, and the staff has taken the kids for a walk through the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and then to the playground in Ford Park. This is one of our favorite playgrounds, and we’ve investigated A LOT of playgrounds around the country in 36 years!
I believe I left you Tuesday morning after Monday night’s tortellini and boys’ swimming adventure. We finished our rehearsing Tuesday with enough time to return to condos, wash up and walk in to Lionshead for dinner at the Blue Moose and a chance to practice our restaurant skills. Walk in quietly; fill in the chairs/tables from farthest to nearest; don’t save seats, but instead enjoy the opportunity to make new friends; sit all the way down in your chair…and stay there for the entire meal; visit with the people at YOUR table, not a table across the room; be ready with your order; don’t play with the condiments, shred your napkin, build silverware sculptures or hang your spoon from your nose; and don’t draw on the tablecloth. Oh, wait, at the Blue Moose we CAN draw on the tablecloth, which is paper, with plenty of crayons provided. Yay!! We had our choice of giant meatball or chicken parmesan sandwiches with french fries. We cleaned the plates. Back at the Antler’s, the girls headed to the swimming pool and the boys played card games, spoons, watched movies or just threw themselves around on the floor, making every sort of noise imaginable.
Wednesday morning we were back at the Amphitheater right on schedule. With everything basically learned and choreographed, it’s now all about memorization and polish. We plugged away all day, mixing up dancing, plugging in notes and memorizing. As we get things memorized, we can really start to make music, and we reached that point with several songs yesterday. One of our favorites this year is Stephen Flaherty’s “The Song I Sing.” We first heard this song when 2009-10 Tour Choir sang at the Southwest American Choral Director’s Conference last February. It was commissioned by the conductor of the New York City Youth Choir, and he was in Denver conducting a high school honor choir at the conference. It is a wonderful song, and we could immediately hear it in the voices of Tour Choir. We re-arranged it for treble voices, and it has proven to be quite a challenge. But we’re up to it!! We know it is going to be an audience favorite.
We spent some time practicing our interview skills, in preparation for both audiences and press while we’re on tour. We first pump in some general CCC knowledge, then move on to remembering to speak in complete sentences (which takes some skill in these days of texting!), erasing “um” and “like” from our vocabulary, and practicing possible answers to a variety of questions. The kids adapt to this quickly, and quite enjoy the process. We will continue to work on these skills throughout the week, and the year!
Wednesday night was “Pizza in the Park” night. There is a great park across the pedestrian bridge and just west of Lionshead, with climbing, swinging, sliding and spinning opportunities galore, as well as nice grassy areas and picnic tables. We walked over from the Antler’s, and the pizza arrived right on schedule. Then, one of our favorite activities, “Tour Choir’s Got Talent!” And, boy, do they! Everyone has time to rehearse, and then performs their best trick, like…saying the alphabet backwards, counting and/or saying the alphabet in Greek, French or Spanish; various gymnastics tricks; a whale-calling robot; whistling (nose or mouth) everything from “Ode to Joy” to “Yankee Doodle;” many tongue tricks with or without ear and head wiggling; and my personal favorite, multiple contorted body parts. These are truly talented young ladies and gentlemen, and we will be forwarding the videos to Hollywood as soon as we can get them properly edited. Seriously, we laughed until we cried, with whooping and hollering for each performance and a bazillion high-fives and hugs for every performer. Sometimes I think these moments are more important than anything we do in rehearsal. They support one another both on and off the stage, crying through the challenges, laughing through the fun, and they come out on the other side with new-found friends and confidence to take on the world. The staff has the privilege of watching it happen, literally hour to hour and day to day. It is an extraordinary process. And hopefully, you will see the results on Saturday.
This morning we welcomed our new friends from around the Vail Valley. About forty second through sixth graders who will be working with Tour Choir, and on their own, today and tomorrow. We will feature them on the concert Saturday, in their own set as well as with Tour Choir. We met them and worked on “Pasta,” a long-time favorite, this afternoon. It will surely be the hit of the concert.
We’re still struggling with memorizing the French Canadian folksong “Ah! si mon,” as well as “Take Me to the Water.” But we’re going to get those and everything else, because these are 73 of the most determined, hard-working and FUN kids I’ve ever met. We’re having a blast!
P.S. Tonight is hot dogs and movie night. Wanna join us??!!