Friday, July 5, 2013

And the Rockets

I had an unusual 4th of July this year. Instead of grilling and going to see fireworks, I sang in a tent a few feet away from several howitzers.

Soldiers setting up the cannons on the 3rd of July

I sang in the Boston Pops 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. They don't use the chorus every year for this concert, so I was lucky to be available this year to do this. It was nice to sing upbeat, (easy), patriotic songs instead of funeral masses for a change.

Not sure where Amercia is exactly...

It was also nice to feel like a VIP. We had special passes that gave us access to pretty much anywhere on the Esplanade (the park where they hold the concert every year) and in the Hatch Shell. They bussed the entire chorus and orchestra from Symphony Hall to the Esplanade in a police-escorted caravan through downtown Boston. Police officers on motorcycles flanked our buses and sped ahead to block traffic at each upcoming intersection. Some people on the street waved enthusiastically at us as we passed; others flipped us off, especially when we traveled through rush-hour traffic jams at 6pm on Wednesday. 

Banner on the state house celebrating the 40th annual July 4th Pops Concert

Back to the tent. Space is tight on stage at the Hatch Shell, but we need a lot of sound. So, they had about one-third of the chorus sing from "backstage", which was a tent behind the Hatch Shell. I was originally assigned to be on stage, but it's been so hot and I found out there would be no opportunities to sit or drink water for long stretches during the concert. I didn't want to risk passing out in front of thousands of people and on local TV, so I opted for the tent. It was still a lot of fun, and I got to see former Senator Scott Brown and actually shake hands with Governor Deval Patrick.

In front of the Hatch Shell during rehearsal on Wednesday

Oh, and the howitzers. They blast those during the 1812 Overture (which has words and choral parts-I never knew that). Even if you're expecting it, you can't help but startle, which is tricky when you're trying to sing. We wore earplugs, but it was a tradeoff because then we couldn't hear what we were singing as clearly. The fireworks that they set off from the back of the Hatch Shell (also very close to our tent) sounded like nothing after those cannons went off. My #1 fan and expert critic Taison said we sounded fine, though. He watched the TV broadcast of the concert and we texted during commercial breaks-another perk of being in the off-stage chorus!

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