Thursday, July 02, 2009

No. More. Rehearsing?

At 1:00 sharp we’re back on the risers.

Chuck Mitchell does his clapping and dancing warm-up again, followed by “directing” us with his arms in various random, and randomly timed movements – lean left, lean right, come forward, lean back. We have to pay careful attention and move in the direction he indicates or there will be collisions galore. I can’t help but think this kind of activity is the kind of thing children’s choir directors use to keep the kids engaged and entertained. That being said, it works on grown men just as well – we’re all laughing throughout the exercise.

Okay, we have more work to do! Jeff leads us in a short warm-up followed by some spot work on the two songs. Then Tony DeRosa arrives at 1:45, and we run the full contest set again. Same drill as before, but striving always, always to be better than the last time.

It’s hard to imagine, but after we run the set, we know it was even better. Jim Clancy confirms it after he gets our attention from our celebrating with only two words this time: “Best. EVER.”

Meanwhile Jeff Oxley is going section by section to every part of the risers, and giving every one of a celebratory fist pump in the air. Jeff, like Jim, is not a guy to be satisfied with anything but the best, so it’s a victory by itself to have this kind of response from them.

We take a short break at 2:00 – my Aunt Kay and Uncle Ron have slipped into the rehearsal room, so we visit briefly while I sit and rest. Then, it’s back onto the risers for some last-rehearsal coaching from Tony D.

We work the better part of the next hour, making subtle adjustments, minute changes, nuances of nuances – just the remaining fine brushwork in the painting of our performance. We can sense that the hard part of our rehearsals is long behind us. We have the skills, we have the stamina, we’ve put in the work to raise this set to an amazing level. All of this is just fun now. And I’m soaking it in.

Just before our 3:00 break, I think I hear Jim Clancy say, “We’re through singing.” What? I can’t have heard that correctly. There’s an hour left in rehearsal! Can it be that the winningest director in the history of barbershop choruses thinks there’s nothing more to do? Wow.

We do reassemble on the risers after the 3:00 break. I see most of the rest of my family slip into the rehearsal room, but true to what I thought I overheard, we don’t work the singing. Instead, we do a little final drilling on the non-singing parts of the competition – the before-curtain moves, the between song resets, the ending resets.

Jim finally acknowledges that the audience that has swelled in our rehearsal room does “deserve to hear something,” so he leads us in singing “What Kind of Fool Am I?” That’s meaningful to me, as the VM debuted Jim’s beautiful arrangement of that song on the Denver International stage two years ago – my first performance with the chorus.

“Fool” sounds amazing, and Jim is just chuckling with delight – the VM as a group is just clicking on all cylinders, and even songs that haven’t been rehearsed in a while are soaring several levels higher in quality than before.

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