Wednesday, September 08, 2010

How I Got "My Own Choir and World Class Conductor."

"So, what have you been up to?" Said Miss E., who is one of my new sophisticated New York friends, who's involved in opera and is also a food and wine connoisseur.

"Well," I said, "I have a choir with whom I sing one of my songs each week, under the baton of a musical director who was a protege of Leonard Bernstein."

Her jaw dropped."You're kidding! How did you manage that? You've only been here for how long?"

I laughed. 

"Officially, since last Sunday. But we've been here for awhile with Zero Hour."

"But, how..."

"Well, once we moved Zero in, I decided that I was going to treat New York as if I were a Freshman in college. Mark is the most talented and knowledgeable person I know. So I decided to attach myself to him and learn everything I can."

"Very smart."

"Happily, there's a mutuality about it. He respects me as a writer. In fact, how it started was he asked me to sing a solo at this Episcopal church in Brooklyn where he's the musical director. The choir consists of some of his vocal students from Manhattan School of Music and a few veteran performers in the theater/cabaret scene.

"After I arrived, he asked me where I wanted to sit during the sermon, and I said, 'Can I just be in the choir with everybody else?'

"Then, when it came my turn during rehearsal, I told the choir to make up the harmonies behind me and we did a song. The next week, I went back, purely to sing in the choir, and they gave me another solo spot. Once again, I used the choir, improvising the harmonies. And on the third week, they made my little solo presentation official.

"And now I'm a regular. And I can use the choir for that spot. And I have Mark Janas conducting. Three weeks ago, Mark and I wrote up an all new arrangement for one of my songs. And that's what I realized the incredible opportunity I've been given: a great choir and a world class conductor."

I have always believed that the best way to succeed in life is to go where you want to be and, if you have to, volunteer yourself. Make yourself useful. If you start at the bottom, being everyone's helper, it's the quickest way to learn everything.

Jim cut in, "Did you tell her where the church is?" I hadn't. He continued, "It's right across the street from where I grew up."

So, the point of the story was that I honestly went there with the simple intention of being just another face in the choir so that I could learn from Mark Janas. And my reward was a continuing solo spot, the use of a great choir and a world class conductor/arranger guiding me and teaching me.

The kicker was when I looked up the liturgical scripture reading for a couple of weeks ago, and this is what it said:
"When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, `Give this person your place,' and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, `Friend, move up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."
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For my birthday, also St. Francis of Assisi Day,

here is "Rescue" the song I sang to Erika Amato 's Buddy the dog. Imagine if we loved humans as much as we love our animals...