Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Grace (I)

Last November, three days after the service celebrating Kieran's life, Siobhan & I left Stratford for a road trip to New York City. We really needed a change of scenery BIGTIME and NYC felt like it would be the right vibe for us at that moment.  I drove the very familiar ten-hour route, starting the trip with a couple of days in our old stomping grounds of Princeton, NJ before getting to the big city.

Recently I had reconnected with a childhood friend (through facebook, what else?) who now lived in NYC in the Upper West Side.  She and her husband had graciously and generously offered that we could stay at their apartment for the week.  We spent those days very much living in the mode of "going with the flow", only doing what we felt like doing at the moment, and never planning ahead by more than a few hours. BEing.

BEing involved mainly eating, sleeping, walking, and a bit of shopping.  By the end of the week, Friday, I felt it was time to take in some sort of major New York cultural event: perhaps an opera or a concert of some sort.  I called various box offices for tickets repeatedly throughout the day, hoping to be able to attend something cool that evening.  I tried the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Lincoln Centre, Carnegie Hall; all of which were sold out. Repeated suggestions to call back in a while to see if any tickets had been returned: I called, and called, and called, to no avail.

As I took a break from phoning, I spotted a "what's on" type of magazine on my friend's coffee table, and in it there was an ad for a Bobby McFerrin concert that night at the Rose Theatre. Perfect, I thought. Siobhan had recently been introduced to some of his recordings through her work with jazz singer Melissa Stylianou, so it would be right up her alley to see Bobby McFerrin in concert.  Except that...of course when I called the box office I was told once again that this too was sold out.

Giving up hope of getting to any snazzy concert that night, we decided to just get out and go for another walk.  As we walked down Columbus Ave, Siobhan suggested that since we hadn't been to Times Square since the days when we lived in New Jersey, maybe we should walk there. Fine, why not?

We came to Columbus Circle, where Columbus and Broadway meet, and I noticed the Rose Theatre with its big "Jazz at Lincoln Center" sign, and realized that was the venue of the Bobby McFerrin concert. I suggested we just look in and check once more at the box office for tickets.  Joy of joys, four tickets had just been returned - so needless to say, I purchased two of them!

As there were still a few hours 'til showtime, we continued our walk down to Times Square, grabbed a fancy gelato, and then back up to the Rose Theatre well in time.  We settled into our seats and started to look through the program.  The first thing I noticed was that as there was going to be some sort of back-up group in this show, there was also a musical director.  The name of the musical director JUMPed out at me: Roger Treece - Roger Treece?! The same Roger Treece who was going to be coming to St. Marys, Ontario the following week to work with OUR choir, the Festival Youth Singers?! ("OUR" meaning that I accompany that choir this year, Kieran had been singing in it, and the piece we were having commissioned to celebrate Kieran would be written for this choir)  I had personally never encountered Roger before this but our illustrious FYS conductor, Rich Sumstad had spoken very highly of him, saying that he was the real deal.  Yeah, you're not kidding he's the REAL deal, on Broadway, with Bobby McFerrin!

The next thing I noticed on the program was the list of names of people in the back-up choir: nearly all the names were Danish names! I found this quite surprising as Denmark (my father's homeland) is such a small country...and what are the chances? Sure enough, they all belonged to a vocal jazz group known as "Vocal Line", based in Aarhus, Denmark.

The concert was wonderful and joyous and was followed by a Q&A given by Bobby on stage. We purchased "Vocal Line"'s new CD release on the way out and I even had an opportunity to speak some Danish while doing so.  Two days later, we left New York to return home. We opened the CD & began listening to it in the car as soon as we finally found our way onto the right highway. We were very drawn in by this sound, this music...a really captivating and excellent recording.  As we were listening to the final track, a tune called Fact/Fiction, at around 3 minutes 50 seconds into the tune in fact...I started to get a very strong epiphany-like feeling...

(please see "Grace II" for the continuing story)


  1. I love when serendipity rings loud and clear....