Choir SingingPostsTeachingTelevision

May 12, 2011

The OK on TV

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There was a regular rodeo at the OK Chorale last week when a TV crew filmed a rehearsal.  Joe Fryer from King-TV and I had been in negotiations for a week about a story on the Chorale.  A week ago Tuesday he asked if they could film us the next day. Up until then I hadn’t given any dates to the Chorale; I didn’t want them to waste their makeovers.  Now I had to act fast so they would at least wash their hair that morning.

I sent an email: “If you are in the witness protection program or are calling in sick, you’d best wear a wig because you may be on TV tonight.”  That was my little joke and I was proud of it.  No one responded.  Usually I get some wisecrack response especially when I have gone to the trouble to be funny.

“Damn,” I thought.  “A wasted piece of clever-ness.”

I sent the e-mail again.  Still no response.   After the third time I got a few laconic replies informing me they now had 3 e-mails from me sitting in their in-box.

“Oh great,” I thought. “Now they’ll think I’m excited about this.”  I wanted to be cool.

I was anything but cool.  None of us were.  That’s part of our charm.  I asked Nina (rhymes with Dinah) if she wanted to come early to chauffeur me to the rehearsal because Joe wanted to do interviews.

“You bet!” she said. “I want to be a TV star!”

The TV piece begins with Mari Huff, a ten year old piano student of mine.   If you watch the video at the end of this blog, her piano playing opens the piece and she was thrilled about that.   I wish we had seen more of her face in the final edit, however her graceful fingers are lovely to watch.  There’s value in those old Edna Mae Burnham Dozen a Day books still.

The OK Chorale rehearsal happened to be one of our quarterly potluck-rehearsals. We were at the home of Gail (alto) of the Boar’s Head fame: http://www.elenalouiserichmond.com/2010/12/a-boars-head-in-the-hand/.   I think the potlucks help people feel more comfortable with each other and thus they sing better.  Also, I get a chance to do more than ask the sopranos to stop talking, ignore the altos because they rarely make a fuss, suck up to the basses because we could use more of them, and try to hide my terror of the tenors.

The Chorale really puts out for the potlucks, even mid-week.  Gail had roasted a turkey and we all brought side dishes.  It was like Thanksgiving only without the annoying relatives.  Eileen (tenor) of Juramento fame (http://www.elenalouiserichmond.com/2011/03/makin-time-with-the-ok-chorale/ brought a corn pudding to die for and Don (bass) made two strawberry pies.

Jeff Christian, the cameraman, had a huge contraption—like a Sony on steroids with a goiter –hoisted on one shoulder.  He leapt around the room like a kangaroo, shooting from all angles, even from outside the house; shooting the food, the rehearsal, the music, my fingers on the keys.  The camera came right into our faces for interviews with Jim (bass), Nina (soprano), Gail (alto), Maxine (alto) and me (Squadron Leader).

A week later, last Tuesday night, the story aired.  All evening long, I got bulletins from friends that The OK Chorale was the teaser for the early news and for Oprah.  Mari, my piano student, stayed up until 10:00 to see it live.  I didn’t see it until the following morning on the web.  It was lovely, a beautiful job of editing and of capturing the character of The OK Chorale.  And they pronounced my name correctly!

The Chorale met last night for a regular rehearsal.  I thought we would all be flying high but we were a little subdued.   Hal (tenor) wasn’t there so that explains some of it.   It sounded like Nina and Gail practically got assemblies called at their schools to show the TV clip so they were exhausted from their turn as celebrities.

I didn’t need to inform anyone that a blog was in process but I wanted them to do something memorable to help me finish it.  There were some funny moments last night but you had to be there to get them.  Mostly we just worked hard at the music.

We cleared up the mystery of where to go for the repeat and the 2nd ending of “The Theme from Peter Gunn,” and the tenors discovered that there was a page six that they did not remember singing in the previous rehearsals.  That’s the sort of thing a choir director loves to hear mid-quarter.

This is what it’s like being TV stars.  There are the rushes of excitement and then it’s back to work.  You can see us right here; after you click play, you have to wait just a bit:

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