I am writing this entry the-morning-after, because last night was very wonderful and very late.
As Mrs. Von Trapp would say, let's start at the very beginning...
Yesterday morning was tough. We were all so excited for the day ahead, yet we all wanted it to go as slowly as possible. The day started with Connie's devotions. Her words have been such a blessing to me this week. She is just so bright and sparkling and loving and smart. After devotions, we had announcements, which included who made it into the closing night program. I had that little knot in my stomach that always shows up on such occasions. They read through all the groups, and then at the very end, they read our names! Scott and I got in the closing program! He was so sure we would make it, but there were so many great performers that I really didn't want to get my hopes up. I just felt so honoured to be on that list. More on this later...
In theory class, we finished our song. It's been a crazy process to co-write with so many people, but in the end, I think we ended up with something pretty good. It was interesting to notice who in the room got excited about the process, and who just shut down. I loved it. I think it was a good preparation for the kind of co-writing I want to do when we move here. No, I don't want to co-write with 18 people at a time, but up til now, I've only ever written with Gerald, and that's clearly a different process. Writing the song in class forced me to be open to other people's ideas and not just trying to force all of my ideas in to the song. (Yes, Gerald, you can smile at this!)
By the way, weird little culture shock. This campus has all these sloping walkways. Every time I walk on them, I think, "Wow, this must be so dangerous in the winter when it's all iced up." Apparently, they just don't get iced up, so no one thinks about that stuff. What am I going to do with all my winter coats?
This morning, we were treated to another concert, and this one was great: The Florida Boys. This group has been around forever. I can't remember the exact date, but I think they were formed in the 1950s? They are just great. There were 6 of them, playing piano, guitar, bass and singing 4 parts. They do a great mix of old and new songs, and all in great rich harmonies. It was so fun and so entertaining. This is one of the things I love about being here. I've heard of the Florida Boys, but they would never come up to Toronto to sing. Here, I got to hear them, talk to them, and, of course, buy their cds!
Before I move on to tonight, I need to write about something very significant. I really don't want to write about details, because this involves other people's personal lives, but in the past two weeks, I have been called up twice to sit with people who are grieving. It has been so significant for me to be able to do this. Two years ago, either one of these events would have pulled me right back into my own grief. I would have needed to call home for support. But I didn't need support. Instead, I was able to offer support to these friends. I knew I couldn't give answers or fix anything, but I knew I could be honest and authentic, and when I was in my grief, that's all I wanted from people. I will never be thankful for what happened to Steve, but today, I am so thankful for the knowledge and strength and understanding that I have gained. I feel so blessed and honoured to have been called upon to sit with these friends in their grief. I pray for more strength and more opportunities in this area.
This afternoon was rest time. I indulged in a long nap and a lengthy vocal warm-up. We all gathered for the show at 6:30pm. The auditorium was full. We all sat in the floor section in our SATB parts, and the upper part was full of family and friends. The show was a long one - 3 hours without an intermission. We would sing 3 group-singing songs, and then we would have a group of 3 solo or individual performances. It was so incredible! The group singing was raised to new heights, and I thought we'd never stop singing, "I'm His, He's Mine", by Dad Speer.
And the individual performances were just so great. We had solos with voice, piano and soprano sax. There were quartets and trios and mixed groups. Daniel and Trey, both from my quartet, did a great piano-comedy-duet. And Miles thrilled the crowd with his 5 octave range. (That's not a typo - 5 octaves!)
We were saved til the end of the program, which was a mixed blessing. Programmers usually put stronger talent on at the end of the show, so that's always cool. But it also meant I couldn't really relax the whole night! I was very nervous going on, but I took lots of deep breaths and prayed a lot. When we went out there, I just reminded myself that the notes would be there, and my job was just to tell the story. And we did! It was great. I believe it was our best performance yet. The audience response was great, and we received lots of generous feedback, so that was all very satisfying. I just felt so honoured to be included in that line-up. Everyone was so good, and it was privilege to share their stage.
Then they announced the scholarships, and I just leapt from my seat. My beautiful friend, Karen, won the Brock Speer Scholarship! She completely deserves it - she's passionate about music and learning, and she always wants to support others and make them shine. I'm just so proud of her for getting this honour.
The school has added a second scholarship this year in memory of Anthony Burger, and this will be awarded annually to a piano student. My friend, Ashley, won this one, and, and I again, I am just so excited for her. She is so sweet and dedicated to her music. Such an exciting night!
After the show, we all took photos and said our goodbyes. This morning is a hard time to see people because so many people fly out in the morning, so last night was the time for tears and trading email addresses. A group of us went out for a late dinner, and that was great. Just relaxing and getting to know each other. Getting closer just before we all have to say good-bye.
I got up at 5:30 this morning to see my room-mate off. I'm going to help in a little of the packing up now, and then head off to my hotel. A lot of my plans for these next few days have been messed up - I can't play an open mic with a broken guitar, NSAI doesn't have a Christian Songwriters Night this week, and several friends our out-of-town. So today will be all about relaxing and recovering, and tomorrow I'll start finding lots to do. I probably won't have much internet access over the next few days, but I'll write here as often as possible.
I've said and thought it every day, but I have to add it in one more time:
I'm so glad I came!!! I can't wait to move here!!!