It’s all in a weekend, from the high to the low to the high again — in terms of culture, that is — and I guess, in terms of my mood, too. Confused? Sure you are. Bear with me. The weekend began with the first of three intensive rehearsals in Manhattan with visiting choral conductor, Alex Qian, for an upcoming concert with several choirs combined: his group, the Lone Star College-CyFair Concert Choir from Cypress, Texas; the Bergenfield (NJ) High School Vocal Ensemble; the North America Chorale (Texas); and my Brooklyn chorus, The Park Slope Singers. We came together to prepare for a Sunday performance at none other than Carnegie Hall! Many of the choral members from Texas were Chinese and we had an enriching experience getting to know one another. One of the songs we prepared was a traditional song, Great Tibet, with the Chinese members of the chorus helping us learn the words. It was a terrific cultural exchange, and to be honest, moved me just as much as singing at Carnegie Hall did! (See the photo above for my first chance at viewing this jewel of a concert space from the stage rather than the nosebleed seats where I usually sit! Quite a thrill to be behind the scenes!)
Friday evening I left rehearsal to join friends on the lawn in Prospect Park to picnic and enjoy the annual performance of the New York Philharmonic. They performed pieces from Beethoven (the Sinfonia eroica a highlight) and Mozart. It is such a gift to the city that they perform in the borough’s parks for free each summer, and the program booklet they produce is always so educational. (Who knew that the eroica was originally written for Napoleon? You should look that up! Interesting story!) Anyhow, after yet another choir rehearsal on Saturday, I returned to Prospect Park to see one of my favorite college bands perform in BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival. Yes, this is where the low culture — Violent Femmes — comes in. But oh, they were gloriously wickedly hilariously low. In fact, so low they were fantastic. The weekend ended, of course, with more high culture: our Carnegie Hall performance of the gorgeous Fauré Requiem. The New England Symphonic Ensemble played the orchestral music, and surely we sounded like angels. It was hard not to weep from the joy of it.
But as I started this post, I told you I felt highs and lows emotionally as well as culturally, right? Well, I think I have pretty well covered the emotional highs. Now for the lows: the only reason I could attend all of these events this weekend is because the Clearwater Great Hudson Revival festival was cancelled this year, to my great disappointment. I have volunteered there for years, and it is usually the highlight of my summer. Clearwater made the decision to focus on the restoration of the historic sloop this year, and hopefully the festival will return next year. I was also sad because I missed the Coney Island Mermaid Parade in order to rehearse for the Carnegie Hall concert. Bummer. But what can you do? There is simply too much high and low culture going on every single day in this city! Lucky for us to have this kind of problem, right?