Friday, July 03, 2009

Final steps

Apparently there’s no chorus right behind us for pictures in this room, so we stay on the risers and sing a bit.

The sound in the ballroom is really “live” – lots of sound reflection. One of the things we’ve been working on as a chorus is quick adaptation to different performance settings. We’ve rehearsed in a number of different places over the past few months, each with different acoustic characteristics, just so we are able to hear the difference and adapt. Ideally, the singing is the same, but it just sounds different to our ears.

We’re prepared, and adapt to the live acoustics in no time. The atmosphere in the chorus is still light – there’s hardly any stress in the group at all. We are about to walk into an international competition in front of thousands of people, a place most choruses only dream of going, much less winning. But we are so prepared for this, it almost just seems like another rehearsal, or another show. Almost.

Jeff Oxley takes the time to note the extremely colorful carpet in the ballroom and wryly quip, “I’ll have to remember this pattern for my home... To keep it as far away from my home as possible!”

It’s not yet time to go to the Honda Center, and we are sent across the hall to a warm-up room. We’re able to sit for a while, and then we get on the risers there and sing a bit.

This room is every bit as “dead” as the other room was “live.” Still, we adapt in seconds – an ability that is crucial when we head to the contest stage. After all, we will never have sung there, and we only get one chance to perform. Adapting immediately is something champions have to be able to do.

11:30 rolls around, and we finally get the signal to head to the buses for the Honda Center. Yay!

We walk out of the ballroom and turn towards the entrance. More stares and questions as our brigade of tuxedo-clad men, ranging in age from 12 years old up into the 80’s, files through the Marriott. One passerby asks simply, “What is this?” Oxley’s nearby and answers quickly, “A singing competition.” Aw, he beat me to it. I was going to tell them, “A really big wedding.”

There are three dedicated buses waiting for us outside. I still marvel at the Society’s ability to handle the ins and outs of moving massive choruses around for this contest.

I’m directed to the first bus. Once we’re all on board, our bus pulls away. The two-mile ride to the Honda Center passes quickly.

The bus stops at the top of the ramp to the lower-level loading area at the Honda Center. We exit the bus and start the walk down the ramp. Since my surgery, sloping surfaces without a hand rail are the hardest for me to maneuver, so I have to take it a little slower. It’s a distraction, but a minor one.

At the bottom of the ramp, in the loading area, we gather quietly into our riser formation. A Society rep points us to the door and tells us that there is to be no talking once we pass that door. She then gives us the signal to go.

I’m still not nervous, but I am extremely excited. This is the real thing now!

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