Performing for the World
The stale smell of old tile floors and piano keys stung my nose. It was that old dusty smell that usually conjures up memories of Grandpa’s seasoned button down sweater, or the unkempt attic stored with keepsakes and memories from Christmas past. The large barred windows with paint chipping encased the beauty that is a Manhattan street from 10 stories high. Early morning beams of light cast upon the only things surrounding me; an over-enthusiastic conductor, music barely learned, and 500 other singers.
It was our last rehearsal and our concert at Carnegie Hall was that night. I was on a trip with the Los Robles Children’s Choir; we were performing in a classical concert titled “Mozart’s Solemn Vespers and Treble Chorus Works”. Though I had the comfort and security of familiar faces from the choir, I felt as overwhelmed and lost as I ever have. The rehearsal continued as I artfully dodged potential paper cuts from music passing in and out of my hands as we tried in earnest to get through the repertoire for the night.
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The rehearsal ended with the sound of scuffling shoes down the stairs as I left the stale smell of the Civic Center room for the last time. Passing doors, my journey down the 10 flights of stairs was filled with the faint tinkling of ballet music and laughter.
We had two hours of free time before we had to start getting ready for our concert. I walked down the street experiencing a sensory overload. The tall buildings made the streets dark; the odd smell from the blend of car exhaust and food carts teased my nostrils; the loud honks coming from the long lines of bright yellow taxis. The dissonant cords from Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” played through my head as I scanned the melting pot that was “The Big Apple”.
I had reached my destination. I decided that with my free time I would visit Carnegie hall and look around inside too see what this place is all about. Opening the door I was invited with a friendly gust of air conditioning; a nice alternative to the humid summer air. The empty lobby and the faint whir of a vacuum contributed to the free and adventurous feeling I possessed when I wore my artist’s badge. This feeling took hold of me as I explored the hallways of Carnegie hall and came upon that familiar stale smell from hours before. I found the Carnegie hall visitors museum and decided that I would explore its contents before the big night ensued. Between old conductor batons and the original floor plans by Andrew Carnegie, I came upon “The List”. The list consists of everyone performance and performer who had the honor the grace the Stern Auditorium/Perelman stage. My eyes scanned the list to see that my name may soon grace the company of Judy Garland, Tchaikovsky, and Louis Armstrong. I soon became fascinated with that long people of paper in cased on the wall. It was humbling and inspiring looking at that list. My own accomplishments seemed irrelevant when compared to their own. Though at the same time I saw that my potential was nothing less than theirs at that point in my life and to the best of my capacity, I would leave my own mark on the world, as did they. This moment fostered the ambition and passion that has driven every activity that I now pursue.
I walked hurriedly through the colorful streets of Manhattan to get back to 55th and 7th to get into my concert attire, and make my way towards the artist’s entrance. With binder in my upstage hand as made my way to the edge of the stage door, I realized that though anxiety and nervousness churned my stomach, I needed to get past that feeling and step out onto the stage. As my old right tattered character shoe stepped out onto the floor, making its debut to the audience that filled the seats, the left met up with it, ready to make its debut to the audience that would soon be the pallet that holds my experience, ambitions, and life.