This year has been tumultuous to say the least. Some ups have been way up and some lows have been way, way low. But certain things keep me coming back, fighting for the next thing, striving for the next goal.
This is one of those stories.
At 5:15 PM Thursday 19 June I received a phone call from a friend in New York, Matthew Workman. He asked if I was sitting down. “I’m driving, does that count?” He proceeded to tell me that Manhattan Concert Productions was pleased to extend an offer to the Kalamazoo Singers and their conductor to
Wait. Some backstory.
I’ve performed in New York three times with companies like MCP. They hire famous conductors (like Nina Nash-Robertson), bring in several fine choirs, and perform a major work or a series of smaller works together. It is a fantastic way to experience NYC, make music that is otherwise impossible, sing with a professional orchestra, and so forth. My first experience was with CMU in 1987 when we sang with Peter Tiboris conducting three Te Deums: the Walton, the Bruckner, and the Berlioz. (The New York Times review headline was “Three cheers for God”). The performance was in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. Brilliant.
The second time was in 2004, with Nina conducting the Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem in Carnegie Hall. It was an “all CMU” performance (almost) of conductors trained by Nina and conducted by Nina. Brilliant.
The third and most recent time was in 2009 when I took the entire MPHS Concert Choir to perform a collection of shorter works with Eph Ely conducting. We were joined by several HS choirs from around the country, including a choir from California which gave a 20 minute solo performance before the rest of us joined them on stage. I sat there listening, stewing, knowing that the MPHS choir was the best choir on stage that night but had not been chosen as the featured choir. At that moment I vowed to myself that I would not bring another choir back to New York, back to Carnegie Hall unless they were chosen to sing that 20 minute concert before the combined choir/famous conductor came on.
Guess what? I can go back to New York now.
Let that sink in for a moment.
The story continues: Matt asked if I were sitting down-yes I were!-and then he proceeded to tell me that MPC was pleased to extend an offer to the Kalamazoo Singers and their conductor to perform a solo concert on the Carnegie Hall stage (or Lincoln Center, if we preferred!) as part of their Debut Series of concerts. What? A solo concert? NOT in combination with other choirs? (Remember, I was in the car and it was a bit road-noisey, so yes, I asked Matt to repeat himself a few times!) This is the Kalamazoo Singers and no one else. This is our concert. In New York. On the Carnegie Hall Isaac Stern Auditorium Ronald O. Perelman Stage.
This is my Carnegie Hall conducting debut.
Hundreds of you have asked me since 2009 what the numbers on the front of my favorite bright-red ball cap mean, and I always silently point to the back, where you then read the embroidered words “Carnegie Hall.” (The front has the latitude and longitude coordinates of its location in Manhattan.) Now you know why I bought that hat and why I wear it often.
It’s time to buy a new hat.
I am blessed.
A Post Script: I mentioned to Matt that I had also sent an audition recording to ACDA, and his voice fell a little in response (see “Dear Minions: This is Post Two” from earlier tonight). He thought we would not be able to sing at ACDA National in Salt Lake City and then come to New York in the same season. I paused a moment, realizing the impact of what he was implying, then confessed that I had not sent an audition to ACDA National, “only” to Michigan.