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2006-02-19 - 6:18 p.m.

ACDA...old friends...weddings...not everyone likes chocolate

Yesterday's experience at ACDA turned into quite a bit of fun. Our choir played the role of guinea pig for two grad student conductors who were chosen as part of a master class with J3rry Bl@ckst0ne, apparently a famous choral director and teacher. He had a marvelous sense of humor and the capability to make all of us feel at ease in a room full of about 300 people. Our own conductor was very proud of us, saying that we did a superb job of following the instruction of the conductor - taking different tempos and dynamics and following their indications (and messing up at the points where the inexperienced conductors were legitimately unclear). It turned into quite an enjoyable and informative afternoon.

One interesting point was to learn just how easy our conductor is. His direction is clear, his manner is easy, and his interpretation is intuitive. I had the first hint of this last year when he was away on sabbatical leave. I thought that I left the group because I couldn't tolerate "All Bach All the Time," but I increasingly see that I didn't click with the conductor. Singing (especially for an amateur) should never become an onerous task.

Another pleasure was discovering that I felt reasonably secure on the pieces for the first time, able to sing without being a slave to the sheets in front of me. I am getting better, although I still need better control over my breathing, and blending my tone to this new ensemble of altos. This will dome with time.

On the way to the master class, I noted that my boots had finally lived their last. The leather was shredded and split in several places. Sadly I needed to retire them and find a new pair. Miraculously, as I left the midtown subway station (with fifteen minutes before our call), I walked past a fantastic store window full of boots that were exactly my style. I was in and out of the store in about 10 minutes and had purchased a wonderful replacement pair. I wore them all over Manhattan yesterday evening, without even a hint of a blister or soreness today! They are a terrific replacement for this fashion staple known as The Black Boot.


The rest of the afternoon was spent in fun. I met up with my friend from San Francisco, and met her partner / fiance for the first time. He is friendly and very much at ease; he has a great sense of humor. I really liked him very much.

We had much to catch up on, but strangely I don't really feel like we said all that much over the course of the evening. It was just as though we picked up where we left off, and went on doing fun things, walking through the city and chattering. Her partner fit right in with the walking and chattering and shopping.

We went to a tappas bar in the east village (a predictably good place), and had fun ordering weird things off the menu. We then went down the street to a bar that specialized in foo-foo martinis, and treated ourselves to martini tappas...I think I was the one who went a wee bit over the top there...but after drinking everyone's water and breathing a burst of the frigid outdoor air...I had recovered.

We proceeded to a third place where we downed extremely yummy french fries and humus (alcohol hunger, at least on my part), before calling it a night. What strikes me as funny is that I used to paint the town technicolor with this friend, and on this night we were happy to call it quits at midnight. Signs perhaps that we are older and now living in our own country again?? Who knows.

In retrospect I am embarrassed by an uncontrolled rant that I began, about what it is like to teach. Halfway through a voice in the back of my head was saying, "STOP" but the front of my head (where the mouth is) was in highspeed gear, bemoaning the ills of education today, and how teaching brings one in contact with a host of inconsiderate people. Afterwards, I felt bad about the monologue. I think it emphasized too much the negative parts of teaching. But well, I guess I just have to remember that we are who we are - at the moment this is what I'm going through and experiencing. Hopefully the future will bring something better.

One of the great revelations of this visit with my friend was the existence of the Universal Life Church - through which one can easily and legally obtain a certificate to perform wedding ceremonies..K and I are toying with how we might use this info to get an officiant for our SF friend - who has an amazingly similar attitude towards weddings as I do - has asked a close friend to become an officiant to perform her wedding in August. K and I are now considering how we might do the same! Now it just becomes a question of finding a friend who will perform our non-ceremony in a soccer field (most of our friends are showing themselves to be surprisingly sentimental about this whole thing.)


A final theme: I've been listening to The N3xt Best Thing on the radio this evening, and their story is about a chocolate factory in Chicago that causes parts of the city to smell of chocolate brownies in the wee hours of the morning. Apparently the EPA has done nothing about the multiple coal power plants whose pollution are destroying the lungs of Chicagoans, but they have required that this factory purchase filters to remove the illegal cocoa particles from the air. Another nail in the EPA coffin. Lord knows we don't care about the mercury-laden coal particles. I'm so glad that my government is on top of chocolate offenders.

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