Thursday, October 20, 2011

Accepting a request: Honoring Dan Wheldon

When the call came in, the office stopped. Can we do this? Can we accept a performance request from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to perform at the memorial service for IZOD IndyCar series driver Dan Wheldon?

Our performances are planned months in advance. This is to allow time for our directors to choose appropriate music, for the singers to learn it, and for our parents to get it on their schedules. Unlike adult performing arts groups, our artists don't drive. Don Steffy, executive director of the Indianapolis Children's Choir said, "We don't just throw our guitar in the car and go."

Singers are on fall break, and there was a question about the music. Was there even appropriate repertoire for this somber event so early in our season?

The behind-the-scenes effort to honor this request was a moment I wish more people saw. The entire ICC staff pulled out phone lists and began calling individual families, and parents rearranged their schedules. Above all of this was the puzzle that had to be put together with the music.

This is where the ICC really shines: founder and artistic director Henry Leck and assistant artistic director Josh Pedde began poring over songs. Cheryl West, director of ICC's high school division the Indianapolis Youth Chorale, offered some of her singers to ensure there are enough to complete a full choir. The artistic quality that ICC was built upon could not be comprised, but it was beginning to look like there were enough singers, enough common repertoire, and enough rehearsal time that it wouldn't have to be.

The request was accepted. The public won't see the effort put forth by the entire organization over the past 24 hours - parents, singers, and staff alike. They will, however, see over 80 young singers atop the risers at Conseco Fieldhouse, with a sound beautiful enough to honor a champion.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Thoughts from the Super Bowl volunteer kick-off

Indy is getting ready for the Super Bowl. Sports fan or not, this is huge for our city. I recently attended the volunteer kick-off, which amounted to a 2-hour cheerleading session to get over 8,000 volunteers excited about the work before them.

Hats off to the Super Bowl Host Committee - they did get us excited! At a preview of one of the world's biggest sporting events, one thing was clear: Music was a huge part of the excitement!

I walked in to Conseco Fieldhouse to hear live music coming from a band set up right on the basketball court. A former Miss America sang the national anthem, and the crowd sang along. In a video montage of the sporting events Indy has hosted over the past 25 years, I was thrilled to see that the Indianapolis Children's Choir was at many of them. The evening wrapped up with Indiana's own Sandi Patty singing "Indianapolis".

It's interesting to me how some people align themselves with one side of the fence or the other, proclaiming "I'm a sports guy" or "I'm an arts advocate." They're really so intertwined at times. The ICC has welcomed visitors, sung the Star Spangled Banner, and performed national anthems live for foreign athletes at world competitions.

Sports and music: we're lucky to be in a city that does both so well.