Friday, December 18, 2009

2009 Relief Society (NOT Enrichment) Christmas Extravaganza!!

This will be boring for most of you. You don't have to read it. My mind is still racing with all the funny and stressful details of this event, and I am hoping writing about them all will clear my mind a bit.

A few months ago, when I was still on the Enrichment Committee, Melanie, the leader, suggested we find or put together a program for the Christmas Quarterly activity. I knew almost immediately what I wanted to do. A while back (8 years?), my mom put together an Enrichment Program all about the women involved in the birth of Christ- ie: Mary, the mothers of Joseph and Mary, The wife of the shepherd, Elisabeth, etc. She had found the script online and found appropriate numbers for each part. I remembered it being lovely, so I asked her to e-mail it to me so I could suggest it.

Melanie liked the idea of a script and musical numbers about the Nativity, but she wanted to follow the scripture story a little more closely, and she wanted to involve some men. This was fine with me, but it meant I had to re write a lot of the parts that we had to make them shorter and closer to scripture material, and write whole new parts for many of the men, and for Mary because I didn't like her part. This means that not all of the material was original from me, but I re-wrote and edited those parts enough that I guess I could claim a large majority of the script we ended up with. This was NOT something I wanted spread around, but that was a bit beyond my control. . . oh well.

Anyway, after I had completed the script and got it approved by the presidency, I was then in charge of finding people to play the parts. This was a lot harder than I thought it would be, but it only took me a day of calling, pleading, and possibly bribing to fill my quota for readers, singers, pianists, and a clarinet player. After the music was all distributed, I thought the hard part would be over. . . Go ahead and laugh at me now. I had never been in charge of something like this before, and was not at all well versed in how things like this can fall apart.

About 2 weeks before the program, I had a whole slough of cancellations. One couple was going on vacation, another woman couldn't hit her high notes, one of the kings would be out of town till the morning of the program and wouldn't be able to practice, and one of my shepherds (the only one who could sing well) had to attend a concert for his son. I scrambled and begged and pleaded and did a lot of switching around in the groups to make things right. One of my angels filled in as the part of Joseph's mother, a new woman replaced the angel, the shepherd's song was turned into a congregational hymn so they only had to read the script, and the husband of the Primary Secretary was heavily persuaded by his lovely wife to fill in as one of the kings.

We held a practice on the Saturday before the program, and I felt soooooo much better afterwards. I heard most of the pieces, and answered some questions. We went through the big finale number, Oh Holy Night, and it sounded lovely. The people who were unable to attend the practice were reliable people who I had no worries about being at the program and being able to play/sing their parts well. I was calmed down and excited about how incredible it was all going to sound.

Then came Thursday afternoon. The DAY OF the program- hours before actually.

The clarinet player e-mailed to say she was sick and couldn't play the obligato for the last big number of Oh Holy Night. No problem. I found a C instrument version of the obligato, and played it on my flute.

One of the Kings had to work late. Big problem. I had already called 80% of the men in the ward, and the ones who had agreed were heavily pressured by their wives to participate. I figured we would just have to work with 2 wisemen. I didn't know what else to do.

The Mother of Mary cancelled- her kids were sick, and her throat was hoarse. She also had a solo in Oh Holy Night. HUGE problem. The Oh Holy Night solo was taken by Arianne Taylor, my Mary, and it was lovely- but her duet number was another thing. I had an hour and a half before the rehearsal before the program. No time to really find someone else to sing a solo. Solution- I did it. I sang. I sang a solo in front of a room of over 100 women. I still can't believe I did that. It was a duet with the mother of Joseph, but I sure had to do the first verse all by my lonesome with all 4 high D's. I am an alto when and if I ever do sing. Not great. I don't really sing without closed windows in my car or my shower, or a big group of other people. Fortunately the other woman, Lisa Houston, is amazing, and she pretty much carried the piece. I think the spirit of the song was still present, which is really what I was going for with this whole thing.

The funny thing is, all morning I had that song melody in my head and was humming it ('Guard Him, Joseph' by Sally DeFord). It was bugging me that I couldn't think of all the words, so I sat down at my piano and plunked out the right hand and sang through it so I could see the words, and spent about 10 minutes practicing that high D so it didn't sound all squeaky- just for fun. Coincidence? I think not! I almost laughed out loud when Wendy called to cancel because I knew that the Lord was supporting me and helping me along.

When I wrote the program I looked for a place to put in a flute solo for my mom to accompany. This was for a few reasons. I wanted Ross to be there, but I knew he wouldn't sing (or so I thought), so I wanted him to read a part and then play my flute so he could still come and be with me. I also wanted people in the ward to know I play the flute and I play it well, so maybe I will be asked to play in sacrament meeting and for other things. I LOVE playing in church. The most important reason, however, was that I wanted my mom to accompany me. I wanted her to be there. I knew I was going to be all tense and stressed and worried. I wanted my mom to be there to comfort and support me, and I guess I wanted her stamp of approval on the program I had written and put together. I also love playing music with her. Our songs in church meetings have been some of my favorite moments. I love you, Mom! Thanks for coming.

This would have been fine except for a few things. Sara and Emma refused to go to the nursery because Grandma was there at our church! Excitement! Ross had to take Sara out in the hall, and Emma sat at the end of the piano bench and tried a few times to supplement my mom's playing. When I stopped her at the end, my mom missed some counts, and I lost my place, and we left out a whole stanza. Oh well. Also, I guess people were worried about the piano being too loud, so it was turned around so the players had their backs to the audience. This was not a big deal, except that I had left the flute music for my part home, and had to read the part on the piano music which meant the audience got to look at my bum the whole time. . . Ross said it looked fine :) I really didn't care at that point. I was glad to have it over with, and I was glad my mom was there with me.

Oh, and the missing King- Ross filled in. Yup- my husband sang! I didn't even ask him to. He saw a need, knew I was stressed, and that, coupled with the pressuring of the Executive Secretary, led him to sing in a trio and read the part of a King. Ross is my hero!

I felt kind of bad because I never meant to put so much of myself in this program. I was even careful about not even putting my name on the typed program. I hope people don't think I am all self centered and proud. I wanted to play my flute ONCE and sit back and enjoy the show. That was just not to be. Did I mention I sang a solo? How did that happen?

All in all, I think it turned out well. The spirit was there, and I didn't pass out or cry, so mission pretty much acomplished I would say :)


Heidi B C said...

It was beautiful and your singing was awesome! You sounded so good! I think it all went well, and I want to commend you on your playing, singing, and preparation of the program!

Carrie Gross said...

Man I'm sad I didn't get to come. I'm certain it was beautiful because you are very talented and this is right up your ally.

Dawn said...

I've always loved your voice and wished you would sing more. You sounded wonderful! And yes, the spirit was there. Thanks again for inviting me.