Film Diary 4
16 December 2007
New York City / Broadway
We wake up in the rural setting of upstate New York to flurries of snow and an excellent selection of breakfast. There is a choice of porridge, muffins, toast, bacon and eggs, yoghurt, fruit, juice, milk, cocoa and tea. We feed, and then load everything into the bus. Wayne drives us on snowy roads to NYC. We play cards, use each other's backs as drums and sing, quietly and not so quietly and really for fun, the Agnus from Benjamin Britten's Mass in D where the organ mimics traffic noises. In a secluded rest area, Klemens uses the bus's horn. Not so easy, but he manages to do it on the beat. The forest animals are probably listening in rapture. We continue our drive, and New York City sort of creeps up on us; there it is, all of a sudden, squatting across the Hudson. We drive into Manhattan, and we are quiet. Most of us are glued to the bus windows, and we are craning our necks to see where those skyscrapers end. Buildings here seem to grow next to each other, and it is hard to tell where one ends and the next begins.
Wayne doesn't need long to find Carnegie Hall; it is a reddish building that reminds one of a fortress, or perhaps a giant ship, with the fire escapes as gangplanks. We descend from the bus, single file, very orderly, and walk through the heavily guarded stage door. I suppose not even an ant would get through if it didn't have a backstage pass. We don't, but our sailor hats sort of give the game away, and moments later, we ride the elevator up to our dressing rooms.
We take the stage: the acoustics are overwhelming, I suppose anyone would sound good here. The hall is beautiful, it has a sweeping stage and curving boxes with lots of red velvet. It looks very festive. We eat while we wait for the concert to begin; it is our very last on this tour and in fact, in the year 2007. The house manager tells us that it is sold out, and that there will be many children in the audience. This we like to hear; that is the kind of critical audience that, if you can win them, really goes to town with the clapping and cheering, which in turn eggs us on.
The concert begins, we file on stage, and applause falls on us like warm tropical rain. The acoustics truly are fantastic. We sing. It feels like a dream, everything goes as it should, we shape the phrases, breathe (in all the right places) and our favourite pieces sound just the way we want them to sound. The audience, true to form, gives us splendid support; they clap and cheer as if this were an ice rink, not an esteemed concert hall. We sing for all we are worth.
After the concert, there is a bit of a celebration in the dressing rooms, then most of us (the wimps, of course) don our down jackets. Only the handful choristers who have a career as an arctic explorer in mind (in fact, they have volunteered to accompany the film crew along Broadway) stay in uniform, complete with winter coats, scarves and sailor hats. And gloves of course. Cannot be ungloved.
We walk with the crew from 57th Street to Times Square, and we attract quite a bit of attention. People point, and three girls, beg pardon, ladies, identify the hats and ask for autographs. They must be about 19, a ripe old age, but we like them. The camera (aka Nik) records everything while we try to sign our names as artistically as possible. With a florish!
An Italian TV crew spots us; they are in fact doing a documentary on New York City, and they include us (probably for all of three seconds) as members of a reasonably well-known boys' choir catching the sights. The lights at Times Square are fabulous; billboards, ads, film posters, names of shows flashing at us. We stop for a quick cocoa en route, before we go to see The Lion King. In the city, the mighty city . . .