My daughter Emily asked me tonight about what music meant to me in my life, so I decided to answer with a blog post. Music has been an important part of my life since my early years. My mother and father were both singers in high school, and my siblings and I were encouraged to pursue multiple musical endeavors. I played in the orchestra until I was 15, sang in a choir until my second year of college, and continued in my adult life by singing in various church groups. I even took guitar lessons for a few years a while ago. Music was always fun to me. It continues to provide me with an important diversion from everyday life.
Probably the biggest event in my musical journey came in 2001. I was singing in the choir at my church, Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Apple Valley, Minnesota and we received an invitation in 2000 to join North Central College and another Twin Cities church to perform a concert in New York City at Carnegie Hall. It would be both an opportunity musically, but also a fun time to see New York City with some of my friends.
The preparation musically was challenging. We held extra rehearsals to work out the difficult pieces we were planning to perform. It was much more involved than what we normally performed on Sunday mornings. After a few months of hard work we were ready to board the plane and head to New York.
The day after we arrived, the pre-show rehearsals to fine tune the music began. These were very focused rehearsals where the director of this mass choir nit-picked details until we sounded just the way he wanted. In between the rehearsals, there was plenty of time to see sights around town. Given that we were visiting before 9/11, we saw the Twin Towers and some of my choir mates actually went there. I think I held the lead amongst my friends for the most celebrity sightings, with the highlight being Regis Philbin, who I saw just outside ABC studios.
The day of the performance was very busy. That morning we were bussed from the hotel to Carnegie Hall for a rehearsal with the orchestra for the first time. I remember walking out on the stage and pausing for several seconds thinking, “Wow! I’m on the stage at Carnegie Hall!” The rehearsal went pretty well, but I remember the concertmaster firing one of the orchestra members because we saw a replacement later at the performance.
The performance itself was a moment I will never forget. The acoustics were amazing, and the performance went so quickly. All the hard work paid off as we all felt that it went very well. Probably more importantly, the sharing of this experience with some great friends was life changing. I hope the opportunity comes around again, but if it never does, I will be more than happy remembering the trip to New York City.