I can’t believe it’s been three years since I auditioned for Essential Voices USA, under the brilliant direction of Judith Clurman. Back in 2011, I saw an ad on Playbill.com looking for singers for a chorus. I used to love singing in choruses so I figured, what do I have to lose? Long story short: I auditioned, I got in, and I’ve loved every second of it.
This time around I have also been the rehearsal accompanist, which has really been great. There’s no doubt I’m a much better pianist than singer, so it’s a real treat when I get to do both under the same umbrella. One part of what the chorus does is perform on the New York Pops subscription series at Carnegie Hall. When I auditioned, I had no idea that was the case. Had I known, I probably would’ve talked myself out of auditioning in the first place, telling myself there are much more capable singers. But ignorance was bliss.
Since I’ve been in the chorus, I’ve had the divine privilege of performing with them in nine concerts at the iconic venue. Even though I add the tiniest piece to the puzzle, there’s still something so magical about every show. You just walk onto that stage and you’re filled with a sense of awe; it’s truly majestic. And not only that, but you can’t help but think of all the people that have walked through that same doorway onto that same stage. The orchestra starts to tune and I just get chills.
Tonight, the concert was “By Special Request: An Evening With The Orchestra.” Most of the concerts on the series have celebrity performers, but this annual concert is all about the orchestra, and the spotlight isn’t shared with anyone else. I’m sure it’s delicious for the orchestra members to be able to dive into this music, selections that a pops orchestra normally wouldn’t play.
For the chorus, we sang O Furtuna from Carmina Burana, Copeland’s The Promise of Living, Bernstein’s Make Our Garden Grow, and Steven Reineke’s Festival Te Deum. Steven is the musical director and conductor of the orchestra, and this concert was the New York premiere of his stunning work. It was really fun–and a little nerve-racking– to be able to accompany the chorus for his piece, while he was there conducting us for our final rehearsal. (Although I wasn’t nearly as terrified as when Jason Robert Brown came to a performance of Songs For A New World that I was conducting, my first show in New York City.)
I’m pretty sick right now, and woke up feeling like complete trash. A part of me was hoping that I’d be sent home as soon as I showed up. Thankfully that didn’t happen because, as expected, as soon our dress rehearsal started and I was sitting on the risers on that stage, I couldn’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else!