HGC in the South: Day 2

Day 2: Our day in Savannah started out with a wreath laying ceremony at General Pulaski’s statue. We accompanied a military brass quintet (composed of two trumpets, a tuba, a french horn, and a trombone) and a twenty-one gun salute, with two of our pieces. This was our first scheduled performance, and an outdoor one to boot. But all in all, it went well.

After the wreath-laying ceremony, we attended a Jewish Shabbat. I had attended one back in Palo Alto for a sociology project, so I had some idea of what was going on already, but this service was actually much clearer. You can probably chalk that up to the fact that the rabbi couldn’t ignore fifty-some men just appearing at the service. He gave some explanation of what was going on as we went through the service, and also gave us this gem:

What is the coming of age ceremony for a Jewish boy?

Graduation from medical school.

After singing for the congregation, we joined them for a Kiddish lunch, which was delicious. Immediately after lunch we had rehearsal at Christ Church, which is the oldest religious building in Savannah (second oldest is the synagogue). The room sounded amazing, and from the way rehearsal went, it looked like our first concert was shaping up to be a good one.

Christ Church post-concert

Christ Church post-concert

We returned to our hosts’ home after rehearsal to eat some food and change into our formal wear, then came right back into the city. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations had already started, so about a block and a half from the front of the church, we had to hop out of our car and walk the rest of the way. We got some strange looks from the celebrants, but made it just in time for the HGC Lite rehearsal.

A brief digression, because I have to mention that the man who introduced us at our performances, FXH, had established himself as somewhat of a long-winded orator. Before each of our events, he gave the speech about Edward Everett, and the “debt of honor,” and the connection between Savannah and the city of “Boston Cambridge” which had been “lost to history.” We knew the spiel by this time.

He outdid himself at this concert. We waited a good eight minutes outside the church, waiting for our entrance while he talked. Then, after intermission, he spoke for another five minutes while Lite was waiting to go on. So all told, he added almost a quarter of an hour to the concert.

But what about the music? Well, the first half of the concert was excellent. It might have been the rock n’ roll music coming from the festivities outside, but everyone was feeling good, singing with phrasing and emotion, and responding to the conductor. The first half of the concert ended with the Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody, which we had performed at the Junior Parents’ Weekend Concert.

After intermission, Lite also did fairly well. Johnny Mercer, the lyricist of Moon River, attended Christ Church, so Lite performed an arrangement of Moon River, and thanks to a good arrangement and an excellent soloist, I think we pulled off a good tribute to him.

The second half of the concert was a bit shakier than the first, but our world premiere of The Field by John Muehleisen, which commemorates the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, received a standing ovation. We concluded the concert with the Football songs and Fair Harvard, and left the stage having completed a good first concert.

Oh, and it was also ultimate Pi day!

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