So sorry to have not updated you on my little story yesterday. As you might imagine, the day just got away from me and that was all she wrote (literally).
So, the tale.
As you may know already, the coach lines were an hour late picking us up from the school, so instead of leaving at 9 p.m., we left at 10. That may not seem like a big deal in the big scheme of things, but oh my…it was.
Being behind schedule in, say, Cincinnati, is one thing. Being behind schedule on New Jersey 495 into the Lincoln Tunnel? That’s another issue.
First off: we totally blew off the Today show because of traffic and time concerns. We were at breakfast at Cucina, and already we were running late getting all the way from 50th St. to 112th, where the cathedral (and the gig) sat. And the logistics of sending 104 people to the bathrooms in the lower level of the Rockefeller building — well, that’s another thing, too. So, by the time we got to St. John, we were already almost an hour behind.
But no worries, right? Our awesome (and I do mean incredibly cool — you’ll see why in a minute here) escort, Cathy, called ahead and talked to someone at the church, who said, “It’s fine — no one is waiting behind them to perform, so they can just go ahead and start when they get here.” Nice.
So we pull up to the church steps, fall out of the buses, get out the robe coffins, and distribute 80 robes like our hair’s on fire. Then, to my complete shock and bewilderment, Cathy appears and starts motioning wildly for the kids to come into the church. Note: we have neither warmed up nor lined up.
So I fly up the steps and go inside. I’m trying to A) find Cathy, and B) line up the choir in the back of the church in some semblance of order before walking up the 600-foot center aisle to the front. Cathy appears and delivers the good news: “They just told me you cannot sing in the church after 11:00.”
It was 10:55.
So — forget the center aisle and any appearance of decorum. I told the kids as quietly as I could to just start walking up the side aisle to the front. Now bear in mind: these poor students had never been here before. They had no clue what was to happen or why they were escaping up a side aisle like thieves, and especially, why they were approaching a performance while standing and walking completely out of order and formation. It was crazy, but they handled it perfectly.
We finally reached the front of the church, and I started motioning them to get on the steps, just willy nilly, as best they could. Everyone was jumbled, and this is a group that is accustomed to standing in their respective sections (soprano, alto, tenor, bass). I could tell by the looks on some of their faces that they were not sure any of this was going to work. Truthfully, I wasn’t too sure, either.
But then, fiends, beautiful things happened. They sang pretty well, and I think the people in the gathered crowd were appreciating them nicely. We got three tunes in, and I feel a presence behind me.
It was the law. The guy said, “You have to leave. Now.”
OK, no problemo…………………………
So that was our “performance” experience at St. John. I still don’t know why they cut us off, other than for some secret reason, likely having to do with making money. But here’s what went on behind the scenes:
Cathy was confused as to why “No problem; they can just sing when they get here” turned into “Nobody sings after 11, so they can’t perform.” So, long story longer, she had a little battle of words with the cathedral manager, to whom she basically said, “These kids have driven 600 miles to do this. Are you going to refund their money? No? Well then, they’re singing. Call the police if you want to, but they’re singing.”
Yep. She’s a rock star. She got us three numbers, when it easily could have been zero. We love her for that (and other things).
So…today’s our last day on tour. I think everyone had a good time, and I hope it continues through this last busy day, when we’ll do the Staten Island Ferry, a tour of Lower Manhattan, Chinatown, the financial district, the 9/11 memorial, Grand Central Terminal, Fino for dinner, and then Top of the Rock before heading home at 10 p.m.
It’s been a real nice cruise.
See you on the flip side, fiends.
Oh my. Well, at least you got 3 songs in, and they sounded beautiful!! Way to go, SC!!! It was like a choir of angels singing. I loved it. Oh, and kudos to Cathy!! Enjoy the last full day!
It was great, Mave — I think everyone enjoyed the tour, and I’ve got a huge file started for next time. Glad to be home!! Thanks for the kind words, sis!
How many years have you been doing this? You are a brave, brave Lady Ms Fink, my hats off to ya!
Love the story of Cathy…sounds like a great advocate for the kids with just the right amount of NYC chutzpah! I love it!
She was a huge advocate — a barracuda for us! I’ve been doing choir tours on my own since the early 90s, and band tours before that dating back to the mid-80s. It’s crazy, but it creates lifelong memories that my “old” students still talk about. Love it!