Our first day of tour started off with waiting for the bus, then trying to figure out where we were supposed to load the bus, but our fearless driver, Mr. Al, was there to help. Once we finally settled in for the drive north, it was clearly nap time for about two hours as the bus was eerily quiet. Clearly I'm not the only one who started the packing process a bit late! Once everyone woke up, however, things got quite a bit more lively. There were some rousing card games and a lovely round or two of heads up – none of which were enough to distract our leader Ms. Jenkins with her ninja-like focus on her laptop. That woman knows how to be productive!
After a stop for lunch at the New Baltimore Travel Plaza (a pretty decent rest area – I recommend it for any future travel plans), we pulled into the Best Western in Saratoga Springs with just enough time to settle into our rooms before heading over to the SPAC for our brush with fame (aka meeting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir). We traded our backstage passes for green wristbands at the front gates, and our guide escorted us down to the the front section of seats. First impressions – boy those are a LOT of singers on that stage! We later learned that there were 320 people singing with the choir today (although full choir is made-up of 360), and with the orchestra, crew, and travel companions, the choir is traveling with 800 people, requiring 3 chartered jets from Utah.
Once the sound check got started, two of our choristers, Bria McKenzie and Lexie Salomone, along with Ms. Jenkins, were invited to join the choir onstage to sing with the group for sound check. Talk about a once in a lifetime experience. It was a lot of sight-reading for these intrepid singers, particularly since a great deal of their time was taken up by just trying to figure out where the music was in the folder for the right song, and where on earth the conductor was starting in the piece! The report from these lucky ducks was overwhelmingly positive, particularly how nice all the choir members were to each of them.
At the close of the sound check, we were joined in the audience by the choir's Director of the choir's Training School who started answering questions, then we were surprised to be joined by Associate Director, Dr. Ryan Murphy. We were feeling pretty cool already, but then the one and only Dr. Mac Wilberg came to hang out with us as well, answering questions and telling the girls all about the musical and logistical aspects of the choir. Despite having a major concert in a few short hours, these two men were excited to spend time with us, and really made us feel special. Of course, the multiple professional photographers and PR folk surrounding our gathering certainly added to that feeling. And that was just the start…
We hopped back on the bus to run over to a local market (Putnam Market) to pickup our boxed dinners, then return to SPAC to settle into our lawn seats for a picnic. Then members of the choir started passing us to get backstage and change for the concert, and they kept stopping to find out who we are and to thank us for coming. Then MORE photographers stopped by to get photos for the Tab Choir's social media pages (stay tuned). The toddler aged son of the one of the choir's staff members was seated in front of us, enthusiastically conducting the choir throughout the concert, and stealing all of our hearts, so of course they had to get photos with us as well. Bottom line, we're pretty popular here in Saratoga Springs, NY, and we haven't even started singing yet!
After all that attention, I think we were all excited to get to sleep, because I have rarely heard all the hotel rooms on tour quiet down as quickly as they did tonight, and I'm excited to join them!