Day Five

Happy mid-afternoon from SLC! We had the pleasure of sleeping in today, as well as a whole lot of free time. I've taken advantage of both of these situations, so I apologize for the delay in writing until now!

Yesterday started out with an amazing breakfast at the hotel (I was finally allowed in after being denied entry in my first attempt). So many food choices! Eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, pancakes, waffles, fruit, cereal, juices--oh my! We were all able to find more than enough to fill ourselves prior to the day's first rehearsal.

We walked a few blocks over to the Eccles theater to meet and rehearse with our Maestro of the day, Sterling Paulson. Aside from being the director of the Choral Arts Society of Utah, he also serves as one of Salt Lake City's network weathermen! Talk about versatile! He was impressed with our ladies' preparedness as well as our sound, and the girls were diligent in marking all changes or notes into their scores with their ever-ready pencils. He is a very cool guy, and it is especially notable how he opened up to all of us and shared his insights, as well as his life and musical journey. After the brief rehearsal, we headed down to the stage to work on some logistics, as well as to get familiar with the space. Built as a space to put on shows (rather than specifically for concerts), the Eccles Theater is a beautiful space that fits around 2000 people. It was a beautiful place to be singing in!

After our rehearsal, we then headed over to Temple Square to get a brief tour of the sights. We saw the main Temple (the biggest one in the world!), learned how to tell if a Mormon Church is just a normal church or a temple (I correctly guessed that only temples have the angel Moroni topping them!), saw the Tabernacle (but didn't go inside), saw the Mormons' original worship space built before the temple, and saw various statues dedicated to important figures in their pioneer history. The girls were very engaged with the missionary tour guides, asking thoughtful questions and seeming interested in learning about the Mormon culture and customs that seemed foreign to a lot of us. We then walked around the grounds and enjoyed the beautiful landscaping and fountains, pausing at a visitor center to use the restroom before making the long walk to lunch.

We walked what seemed like forever (oh my gosh, was it hot out!) to our restaurant for lunch. We were all treated to salads, personal pizzas, and a ridiculous amount of gelato. It was fortunate that our lunch was so huge, as we would not be eating dinner until after our concert. Our appetites fully satisfied, we headed BACK to the theater for a rehearsal with everyone onstage. There were the nearly 100 singers of the Choral Arts Society of Utah, the Princeton Girlchoir, and the Utah National Guard 23rd Army Band taking up the entire stage--and I got to witness the majority of the rehearsal from the wings, mainly owing to the fact I couldn't figure out how to get out of the backstage area and into the house. In any case, it was quite an impressive sound when all three groups were firing on all cylinders! We were also excited to be able to hear Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin (that's a whole lot of D's for one person's name!), a jazz singer, and her band. 

After THAT rehearsal, we had about an hour to load up on water and various snacks provided by both Ms. Butler and CASU, rest our voices (you can guess how well that went!), and get changed into our concert attire. At 7:10, the girls took the stage while their fearless accompanist had his picture taken with the Days of '47 Queen and her two attendants (they all had tiaras and sashes, so I just HAD to get a picture with them!). From 7:30-9:30, our girls rocked the house! The audience was very receptive to us, clapping along once "Music Down In My Soul" got rocking (accompanied by a bass player and drummer from Miss Dee-Dee's band). In the second half of the program, we were accompanied by the Army Band on "I Hear America Singing", which was a fun change of pace from only having me play. I must say, it was a lot of fun playing with an Army Band accompanying me on the accompaniment!

When the concert was over (and after I was scolded by an over-zealous stage manager for missing a curtain call that no one invited me to partake in), we all hurriedly made our way over to the local Olive Garden to have a VERY late dinner. The girls enjoyed the endless salad and breadsticks (some of them learning that Mr. Brechmacher's way of eating Olive Garden breadsticks is the BEST way to eat Olive Garden breadsticks), as well as our entrees, in the company of Ms. Bulter's mom! Running into family seems to be the theme of the past couple of days (although this one was planned ahead of time). We closed the day up with a rousing rendition of "Music Down In My Soul" in the middle of a Salt Lake City sidewalk, where we happened upon a piano that was shockingly in tune! 

We got back to the hotel a little bit after midnight, hence the sleeping in. Today we have our final concert, and it's our last day in Salt Lake City. We've been having a great time!

-R