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Please be advised that the taking of photos inside Carnegie Hall is strictly forbidden, even during rehearsals, so I have no idea where this came from.

View from the stage at Carnegie Hall

The fact this is the view from my seat on the stage is a cosmic coincidence.

And yes, by the way, that round thing in the middle of the picture is a gong. The stage is not so big and we were practically seated in the percussion section. In my usual back row seat I had four rows of altos to muffle the sound but I pitied the front row peeps.

No matter how many times I perform there, I find it impossible to be on that stage and not think about those who have stood where (or darn close to where) I’m standing. Tchaikovsky conducted the opening concert. The Beatles were there…though they had to scrap the live album recorded that night as the only sound was that of fans screaming. Judy Garland did a show there, with Carol Burnett, I believe. Stars of stage, screen, and every kind of music have been there and done that. It’s an icon, and as the t-shirt says, “If you haven’t played it, you haven’t made it.”
Carnegie quote

So, we played it. Unlike previous gigs, when we performed with the Opera Orchestra of New York, there was no audience for the rehearsal, which was a good thing. At one point someone . . . someone very close to me, possibly in my chair . . . came in two beats early with a perfectly beautiful “K” sound and a rich, ringing tone. I blame Vikki for leading me. . . er, whoever it was. . . astray. But never mind, it was just rehearsal, and as our bass soloist said when he missed an entrance during the recording session, “It may have been early, but it was fabulous.” I’m pleased to report there was no such foolishness from our section during the actual performance.

The piece we performed (with our own Dallas Symphony this time) is called “August 4, 1964” by Steven Stucky. You can read all about it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/13/arts/music/dallas-symphony-orchestra-at-carnegie-hall-review.html?_r=2&ref=arts And when you do, please notice the little vague blob on the very top left corner of the photo. That’s me. My shoulder, a little hair, and edge of my glasses are about all that made it into the frame, but it’s better than nothing, right?

The performance went extremely well, the audience was enthusiastic, the after-party was lovely, and the after-after-party cheesecake was a chocolate lover’s dream. (Benash Deli. Terrible service, yummy Snickers cheesecake.) What more could a girl want?

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I’ve been absent from these pages for a bit, but only because I was gathering new experiences to share–in New York City, no less! The Dallas Symphony Chorus (and our fabulous Symphony) were invited to perform at a little place in the Big Apple called Carnegie Hall. No matter how many times we go there–and I think this was my 6th–walking in the stage door of that place just never gets old.

But that’s later. First, we had to get up in the middle of the night and drag ourselves to the airport for a way-too-early flight. The usual suspects (Vikki & Rosemary) and I elected to fly on our own and stay a few extra days. This earned us bright pink luggage tags with our names and the designation “deviant” . . . er, “deviation.” We arrived at the airport at the same time as another flight, so when I turned my phone on I heard this message:

“Susan! We’ve got a limo! What gate are you at, we’ll come get you.”

A what?

“A big, white limo!”

Sure enough, there was a big ol’ limo packed with chorus friends. Best ride into the city ever!

Inside the limo

A view from the back seat.

Once checked into our hotel, we did what we always do in New York: ran downstairs to one of these…
Hot dog standfor one of these…

dog

with everything, thank you.

And a little something from one of these…

dessert truck

Nutella was involved but my hands were full, so no picture.

Then it was time for a stroll. We popped into the delightful gift shop of the American Folk Art Museum (too close to closing to see the museum itself), walked on the avenue (Fifth Avenue) a while, then wandered into FAO Schwarz® where Rosemary picked up this guy: Rosemary & Muppet friend and we visited these gentlemen made entirely of Legos:

Indiana Jones

Legos. Why did it have to be Legos?

Cap'n Jack Sparrow

Arrr.

By then our feet were tired and it was time to rest up before dinner. Ah, dinner…that gets a post of its own.

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Today was David’s memorial service. It involved members of the Dallas Symphony, the Symphony Chorus, the Highland Park UMC choir, several soloists, and a variety of conductors. There were, by my count, some nine instrumental pieces and eight choral works, plus three solos—and I may have missed a piece or two. Of course, a number of people spoke, too.

David planned the service himself, which made it all the more special. (Though when I reach Heaven myself I’ll have a few words with him over that arrangement of Holy, Holy, Holy. “Seriously. Could you not have warned us? You know how tricky Gary Fry pieces are, and sight-reading through tears is NOT easy…”)

As I listened to the orchestra play Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings—surely the most passionately mournful piece ever written—I was struck again by the way music expresses our emotions in a way that words cannot. I think the Holy Spirit must live in music; Romans 8:26 says, “But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain.” Deep feelings that words cannot explain describe today’s service beautifully.

Listening to and making music together—music that testified to the awesomeness of God, the assurance of His love, and the comfort of His eternal presence—was a comforting and healing experience. I’m sure David knew it would be so when he chose the songs. The spoken words were also a comfort. I had to restrain myself from waving my soggy tissue and shouting “Amen!” at a crucial part of the message thanks to Dr. John McCoy and his passionate confidence in Christ’s resurrection and what that means for believers. (It didn’t seem quite the place and time for that kind of outburst, but I was waving and “amen-ing” on the inside.)

And so, we move forward. I’d like to end with the Affirmation of Faith from today’s service, taken from the Heidelberg Catechism:

My only comfort in life and death is that I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ;

Who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; yes, that all things must be subservient to my salvation.

And, therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready henceforth, to live unto Him.

Amen.

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