Friday, September 21, 2007

September 2007: Premier Retreat!

Guest Writer: Cyrus Dahmubed Premier Choir

This season Mr. TK decided that premier choir will have one over night retreat at the beginning of the season, instead of multiple 9-5 retreats throughout the season. The plan was for everyone to arrive at BCC Central at 7:30 on the morning of Saturday, September 8th. I instantly knew this was going to be a problem. All singers were asked to arrive at 7:30 so that the bus could leave at 7:45. At 7:30 about 10 singers had arrived, at 7:45 about half the singers had arrived. At about 8:00 the staff decided that we should start loading the school bus that was to take us to Kensington, NH where the retreat was to be held at the Kensington Pinnacle Leadership Center. So slowly but surely the group of partially awake singers began to load the bus with all of their luggage which, ranged in size from something not much larger than a purse that a woman might carry to a very elegant party all the way up to a suitcase in which one might fit two to three 5 year old children. After about 25 minutes of loading the bus all the singers that were to come on the retreat had arrived. Ten minutes later the bus departed, loaded to the point where Mr. TK had to jump over 10 feet of suitcases in order to pass the mid-point of the bus. The bus then took a wrong turn. After making a complete circle and ending up back at BCC Central the mumblings in the bus sounded something along the lines of “If we had left on time, we would have been there 5 minutes ago”. But soon everyone’s discomforts were allayed as sugar coated doughnuts and every imaginable flavor of bagel and cream cheese were passed through the bus.

Alas, our destination was finally reached. By the time we reached the center it was nearly 10:00, and the singers were told to take all our belongings to the rehearsal room and to take our seats so that the season could be officially opened. This was done and we began to be placed in our correct seats and to find out what voice part (e.g. Alto 1, Second Soprano etc…) we would be singing this year. There were many happy and a number of rather distraught looking faces when we finally did get to the actual singing. After quite a bit of surprisingly good singing (judging by the faces and exclamations of the staff), a bit of laughing, an ice breaker game and only one or two anecdotal speeches by Mr. TK, lunch was served. During lunch there were copious amounts of bonding, catching up, friendship making and yes, even a little bit of eating. Just before lunch Mr. TK had announced that this year in Premier Choir there would be a choir president, section leaders and music library assistants. The section leaders and library assistants would be selected by Mr. TK, but the president would be nominated and voted for by the singers. So during lunch there was a constant trickle of singers lining up to write down the name of their nominee.

After lunch we all returned to the rehearsal space to continue rehearsing. We rehearsed for about two hours after which Mr. TK announced that the upcoming break was our last chance to nominate singers for the choir presidency. So we had our break and a few more names appeared on the list. When we returned from our break we sang a bit more and Mr. TK told us that it was voting time. He read off the names of all the people who had been nominated and handed everyone a small piece of paper on which to write the name of the person they were voting for. While the votes were being tallied by Ms. Dominguez, Mr. TK informed the choir as to whom he had chosen for section leaders. The list was as follows: Laura Potter to lead the 1st sopranos, Georgia Halliday to lead the 2nd sopranos, Isabel Koyama to lead the 1st altos and Terrell James to lead the 2nd altos. Following a surprisingly short period of applause at the announcement of the last name mentioned, Ms. Dominguez asked to speak with Mr. TK about some problematic affair that had apparently arisen with the presidential ballots (we must have a lot of ex-Floridians in Premier Choir). Mr. TK then retook his place at the conductors stool and with a somewhat solemn air began to explain that it had been a very close election and that this year there would be a president and vice-president, due to the near tie. He said that the vice-presidency would be held by Mia Ferguson (this was followed by one of the largest ranges of emotions that may have ever been displayed by a crowd of Premier Choir size) and that the presidency would be held by Sherylynn Sealy. The applause following this proclamation was uproarious and unanimous. Mr. TK never mentioned who would be the library assistants.

The afternoon continued with rehearsal, a break, some more rehearsal and to begin the evening, dinner was served. The activities during dinner were much the same as those that took place during lunch. When we returned to rehearsal Ms. Dominguez took the altos upstairs for a little bit of extra work on the song “Can You Hear”. Mean while, Mr. TK did voice matching among the 1st and 2nd sopranos, a rather tedious – and for new singers, nerve racking – experience. Once all each 1st soprano had been paired with all a 2nd soprano, based on the way they sounded with each other, the altos were brought back in so that each alto could be matched with one of the already existing pairs. Since this activity usually only involves 3-4 singers at a time, the other singers were resigned to reading, doing homework, whispering inappropriately and staring aimlessly at random items in the room. Once all the trios (and sometimes, quartets) were formed we continued to rehearse. And thus the first day of rehearsing concluded.

Once we were dismissed from rehearsal we were informed as to who would be sleeping where. All of the boys were to sleep in the incredibly luxurious cabin, with a kitchen, running water, electricity and multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. Amenities the other cabins did not appear to share. As the center did not have enough beds for all the singers and staff to remain on campus, about 20 singers and 2 or 3 staff members were sent to spend the night in a hotel about ten minutes away from the center. After the group for the hotel had left, the boys had gone to their cabin (which was right across the dirt road from the rehearsal space), and one group of girls had walked the half-mile to their cabin only one group of girls was to be transported by van to their cabin approximately 1 mile away from the rehearsal space. This walk would not have been enjoyable in the dark, through the woods, with luggage, being eaten alive by mosquitoes and heaven only knows what other creatures that could be lurking in the dark woods of New Hampshire. Once everybody had been safely transported to their assigned sleeping quarters, the night went off without a hitch, or so I have been told.

The next morning all singers reported back to the rehearsal space with their luggage for breakfast. Breakfast was followed by rehearsal, a few more somewhat tangential speeches by Mr. TK – including one particularly random one about rain and the kinds of animals he has become accustomed to seeing in his backyard – and lunch. Lunch was followed by the same things as breakfast, except, of course, lunch. Around 3:30 we were informed that we should gather our belongings and begin to load the bus for departure. After the rehearsal space had been cleared of such obstructions as chairs, pianos and music stand a few of the singers decided that it needed a vacuuming. Once this was completed everyone was back on the bus and in just over an hour we were all back at BCC Central and greeted by our families.

All in all, the retreat was full of music learning, singer to singer bonding, singer to staff bonding, and (more so for the staff than the singers) stress. But from what I have heard the retreat could not have been a better way to start BCC’s 5th season, and the things learned and achieved on the retreat were truly in the spirit of BCC and helped to mold the newest (and some of the oldest) Ambassadors of Boston.

And thus is the story of the Premier Choir 2007 Retreat.

1 comment:

Melanie/Anthony said...

The retreat was a great time and we were able to get through a lot of music. Kudos to all involved!

Mr. TK