When I lived and taught in Pittsburgh,I had a close pal who was a math teacher. We would start conversations talking about beautiful music, and would end them with him talking about beautiful math. Now, I struggled with the concept in the same way that I struggled with imaginary numbers: the mere string of words creates an oxymoron! But tonight, I daresay that I'd have to cede to his belief.
Starting with simple -math:
- 3 Filene Young Artists.
- 7 Studio Artists.
- 80 Choristers.
- 82 members of the National Symphony Orchestra.
- 1 talented mensch of a conductor.
- 3 preshow events.
- 2 postshow events.
- Several THOUSAND audience members.
- 3 stage managers
- 97 soul-sucking degrees (not to mention the humidity which I SWEAR hovered around 110%.
(I might be exaggerating, but only a bit...it was equal to Sweaty Todd conditions in 2011.)
- 4 cookies (no self-control. stress eating is alive and well in Virginia, my friends.).
- 4 piano moves.
- A gajillion stagehands.
- a metric shit-ton of sweat. Seriously, y'all, if you coulda measured it you would've been totally disgusted by the volume of water we all displaced during this week. I swear, I lost at least 5 pounds (was aiming for 17, but I'll talk what I can get!
And the after -math:
- 3 administrator wardrobe changes
- 4 pairs of shoes (2 that were even remotely appropriate)
- 7 glasses of ice water
- 5 trips to the plaza
- 1 rapturous crowd
- 10 sweet, buzzy singers
....and somehow, the rest doesn't translate into numbers.
The aftermath is, happily, not so easily summed up. We work for weeks - MONTHS - to put together a show that plays for just one night: there's only one opportunity to get things right. There's a lot of pressure on everyone when you've got just one shot, and the big and little things take on equal importance whether it's 1am and the work call for the overnight has just started or it's time to take your place for the first - and last - time in the run.
I won't lie: it's a pressure cooker. BUT I mean that in, really, the best way. I have colleagues who, when placed under pressure, shine up like new diamonds. They find time, they ask questions, they connect, they clarify. They do stupid things like move pianos and re-enact conversations and wonderful things like bringing cupcakes and telling personal stories in quiet moments backstage. They tell jokes, they're not above doling out parking justice when the occasion warrants, they share sandwiches and say "yes" when you ask them to do ridiculous things.
I am reminded, in epic fashion, how lucky I am to be surrounded by people who aspire to great art and strong collaboration. The next time I talk about playing the lottery, friends, please remind me that I've already won.
So. It's somewhere between 1 and 2am. I'm sitting here, in my air-conditioned house, a glass of wine on one side, a dog snoring with his schnozz stuck between two couch cushions. Bed is imminent, but I think I might stay up and bask in this glow for a while longer.
If you were involved in any way with this evening? I am grateful. Thank you.