Monday, July 7, 2008

Oregon Tour Update: Day 9

This was the earliest morning of the tour by far, as everyone was required to be at the church at 4:30AM to head to the Airport. Our gracious host families drove us to the church, and we thanked them for being so kind and opening their homes to us, then boarded the bus. Once at the airport, we gathered into family groups, checked in, went through security, and prepared to travel back home to Boston. After getting situated, many of us took the opportunity to get some sleep, relax, and prepare to part from BCC for the summer. This flight did not feel nearly as long as the one over to Oregon, and was over in no-time, although we did have to briefly stall in the air over Logan as there were thunderstorms in the Boston area. Once we reached the airport, we had plenty of business to attend to in a very little amount of time. We voted for next season's Premier Co-Presidents and gathered to distribute superlatives, a BCC tradition. Each tour, choir members come up with a superlative for each member, examples being "most talkative" or "most likely to fall off-stage" which are then distributed accompanied by lots of laughter. This year's superlatives were quite successful and left everyone feeling loved and accepted. At baggage claim, singer gave big hugs to each other, and headed home feeling accomplished and missing BCC dearly!

Oregon Tour Update: Day 8

After being fed delicious breakfasts by our host families, we gathered back at All Saints to begin our day of sightseeing. Our first stop was the Multnomah Waterfall, an absolutely beautiful waterfall that was amazing to see in person, and also a fantastic photo-op. Some singers chose to hike all the way to the upper falls, while others made their way to the lower falls. Fun was had by all! We re-boarded the bus and then headed to a fish breeding facility, which was truly thrilling! We got to see fish ranging in size from less than an inch long, to over 6 feet. We munched on wonderfully prepared box-lunches and then headed to see some skilled sportsmen using the wind to propel their sports gear, which was very interesting. Many of us also attempted to skip rocks, however Mr. Tk took the cake for best rock-skipper. We got back on the bus once again, and headed to All Saints to rehearse for our final performance. Although our energy was running low, we rehearsed for an hour and a half, running problem spots in our songs, and practicing performance formations. We then feasted on a tasty dinner of lasagna and ice cream provided by the fantastic church community at All-Saints. After a final meeting where we gathered our thoughts, we headed into the hall for our last concert of the season! We gave it our all, leaving nothing left in our tanks as a final farewell to the '07-'08 season. Emotions were running high and many felt strong emotions both in performance and afterwards, feeling a strong sense of accomplishment realizing how much of a loving family Premier has become.

Oregon Tour Update: Day 7

After having a delightful goodbye-breakfast and saying fond farewells to our fabulous intern Marissa, we loaded on to the bus with our fantastic bus driver Ralph, and headed to Portland, Oregon. After about 2 hours on the bus, we stopped for lunch at a wonderful resturant in Portland called Macadams. I think all of us would highly reccomend it! We relaxed over lunch, and then headed to downtown Portland to do some sightseeing. We were pleased to see that Portland is VERY eco-friendly with a bounty of bike-riders and environmentally-friendly options. We stopped at Powell's, the largest bookstore in the world! There were three floors and enough books to last you a lifetime. We did some additional shopping, stopped for ice cream, and relaxed by a fountain for tanning and a great photo-op.
We then headed to the All Saints Episcopal Church of Portland, where we met our home-stay families, all of which we super kind and excited to have us. We broke off into families for the night and rested up for the day to come.

Oregon Tour Update: Day 6

On Sunday, we woke up bright and early to gather and head to a local church to perform. After a quick bite to eat, we boarded the bus and traveled for about 10 minutes to St. Mary's Episcopal Church where we were greeted by the very kind and inviting staff there. We quickly hurried into the chapel to close their 1st service with a performance of "Aint-a' that Good News" which was a hit! After the church-goers cleared the chapel, we situated ourselves in the choir loft and did a bit of rehearsing for the 2nd service of the day. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to perform at three different services, the end of the 1st one of the day, multiple times in the 2nd, and as the prelude for the 3rd. The 2nd service was quite enjoyable for us as we got to showcase many of our sacred pieces including "Praise His Holy Name" which came as a bit of a surprise as we hadn't performed it in months! Post-service, we gathered in the church's community hall for a reception with the church members, all of which were very gracious and curious about our chorus. We then sang as the opening for the 3rd service and headed back to UofO to further prepare for the gala concert.

We arrived back on campus and headed directly to lunch. Afterwards we had the opportunity to meet-and-greet with singers from the Oregon Festival Choirs, who will be touring to Boston next summer! We're very excited to have them visit us. We got to know each other and then sang Jim Papoulis' "Can You Hear?" a song that both BCC and OFC know and love! After saying goodbye to our new-found friends, we had a group meeting and then broke into small groups for the afternoon free-time. Some chose to go the Duck Store, where much UofO apparel was purchased. Others opted to relax in the courtyard. Everyone enjoyed taking a break from the music for just a little while.

Later in the afternoon, some BCC singers joined Mr. Tk on a trip to visit the Youth Choral Academy, a 10-day program which occurs in Eugene at the same time as Piccfest. We were kindly greeted by the staff and singers there, and were in awe of their beautiful sound and clear commitment to choral excellence. We had a welcomed and unexpected opportunity to perform, which we took with glee. We sang "We Are" which yielded a standing ovation from the 85 academy singers, pleasing for us. We also were invited to demonstrate our solfege abilities, starting in the key of C, modulating to MANY other keys, and magically finding our way back to C again. A true feat! We left the Academy feeling confident in the abilities of a small group of only 9 or 10 to represent BCC as a whole, and also amazed by the impressive things occuring at YCA.

After a speedy dinner, we boarded the buses to the Hult Center, our performance venue for the final gala concert. The very organized Piccfest staff got us into a fourteen row formation, and then lead us into the Center where we lined up on stage. After being on our feet and rehearsing for almost two hours prior to the actual concert, some BCC members began to feel slightly lightheaded, but of course our fantastic staff helped keep everyone well. When the final concert began, every BCC member gave it their all! We (all 350 festival singers!) performed a stunning performance and felt empowered by the beauty that can be created through choral music.
Exhausted, we booted our way out of the final pizza party as quickly as possible, after of course saying loving goodbyes to the new friends we had made at piccfest!

Guest Writer: Casey Accardi

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Oregon Tour Update: Day 5

We awoke on Saturday filled with jubilation for the coming day. After a brief breakfast (which was later than usual, 8:30!) we headed to rehearsal, in which we prepared to perform at the U.S. Olympic Trials. The fantastic people from Spivey Hall Children's Choir managed to create a perfect numbering system that made it possible for us to line up at the performance. We practiced the songs that we were going to perform (Wir Eilen, Psalm 47, and Hope For Resolution) and then lined up to walk to the field upon which we were to perform at. After magically fitting onto the stage and risers, we performed a solid performance for a very interested crowd that rewarded us all with a standing ovation. Afterwards, we had a yummy lunch and then broke up into groups for free-time. Some chose to attend a discussion with the famous and fabulous Anton Armstrong, a legend in the choral world who is quite inspiring, and others relaxed and took trips into town.
Finally we traveled to the dining hall for dinner and then got all dolled up to attend the Bach B Minor mass at the beautiful Holt Center in Eugene. In our formal attire we boarded the bus, did our classic count off, and departed for town-center. Upon arrival at the Holt Center, we quickly made our way to our seats, and settled into the comfy chairs for the two and a half hour concert. We were all wow-ed by the performance and felt touched by the passion clearly radiating from every being on stage. We were fairly exhausted afterwards and returned to our dorms to get a good nights sleep, however, the ladies in the girls dorm had a late night pizza craving and ordered-out from a local pizzeria, creating a bonded feeling felt by all.

Oregon Tour Update: Day 4

Friday was another fun filled day for BCC. We arose bright and early at 7:30 for breakfast in the dining hall, and then proceeded to our 5th rehearsal of the festival. We felt more energized than ever before and it shone through in rehearsal through our shining and smiling faces. After rehearsal we made our way to lunch where we had fantastic three-cheese pasta and a fantastic selection at the salad bar. We then prepared for our personal workshop with Mr. Chilcott. The workshop concept is that each choir gets the opportunity to work one-on-one with Mr. Chilcott so he can provide personal tips and ideas geared to improve our performance. Our intention in our workshop was to get very detailed and extremely helpful pointers from Mr. Chilcott, and we got just that! We worked for our entire 30 minute session on the song "O Vos Omnes" which is a very challenging yet rewarding piece to sing. Mr. Chilcott was wonderfully helpful and assisted us in tuning and perfecting the song. It was very exciting working with him especially because he radiates energy and passion for choral music and is an inspiration. We also got to observe Blair Children's Chorus and The Academy of the Sacred Heart and Mid-Pacific Institute's workshop sessions, which were thrilling.

We were then presented with a variety of options for our free time. Some singers chose to go see the olympic athletes prepare for the track and field trials. Others elected to go into downtown Eugene to visit Starbucks and American Apparel. Some decided to attend a very fascinating discussion that included Bob Chilcott and the conductors and accompanists of each choir. Overall, everyone got to relax a little bit and rest their voices.

We then made our way to dinner which was followed directly by an evening rehearsal including all the choirs and representatives from the Eugene Youth Orchestra who would be joining us at our final Gala Concert to accompany us on a few pieces. This rehearsal was exciting as its always fun to work with an orchestra. Its always a rewarding feeling when you can join your musical talents with the talents of other musicians to enhance music. Post-rehearsal, we vetoed attending a ice cream social to share feelings and prepare for the day ahead. With a fresh new outlook on ourselves and the festival, we went to bed looking forward to the day ahead.