On the 6th day of our NYC trip, we woke with an extra spring in our step. The day that we had anticipated for weeks, if not months, was finally here; the day our daughter, Emily, would perform with the Middle School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall.
This day was also my sister Lori’s birthday. She and her husband, FD, strayed from the usual complimentary hot breakfast at the hotel, and enjoyed a tasty meal at the Applejack Diner. Chris, Sid, and I made our usual trek downstairs for breakfast, and while we were there, we received a message from Emily. She indicated that her congestion and cough were still bad, and she was planning to just stay in and rest after rehearsal that morning. The others in her group would be touring Central Park and the American Museum of Natural History. She asked if we could take her to lunch, as she wanted to see everyone.
Shortly before noon, we arrived at her hotel, The Roosevelt, and met her in the lobby. Although we knew she was feeling tough, she was a site for sore eyes. It had been hard on us, leaving her with a group of strangers in New York City just three days prior. She had to be brave, independent, and even a bit resourceful to look after herself these four days. She had become fairly familiar with her area, and led us to a fine little cafe down the street named Blake & Todd. Lori and FD met up with the four of us there, as they too wanted to see Emily.
After a delicious lunch, we took Emily back to our hotel, a brisk 20-minute walk, and pampered her with an afternoon of rest and relaxation; two things she hadn’t seen much of since arriving in NYC. We painted our nails, I curled and pinned her hair up, and she did her makeup for the big evening. When it was time, Chris and I walked her back to her hotel to get ready, stopping along the way to pick her up a sandwich to eat before the concert.
Thinking we were still early, our smiling faces turned to looks of panic when we met her roommates in the lobby, dressed and lining up for the concert. Apparently messages were not coming through well on her phone in NYC, and this one, announcing an earlier departure to Carnegie Hall, was just one of many she had not received. The elevators were crazy busy, of course, so we found ourselves running up 3 flights of stairs to get to her room. Once inside, she started flinging clothes into a pile as I helped her into her concert attire. She inhaled a bite of her sandwich in-between every piece of clothing she put on, then ran back down the 3 flights of stairs to get in line. She wasn’t late, fortunately, and I even managed to snap a couple of photos before Chris and I wished her well, and headed on back to our hotel to get ourselves together for the evening.
My handsome guys slipped into their suits, while I donned my evening dress (my first ever). Once together with Lori & FD, we decided to walk to Carnegie Hall, rather than hail a taxi. I knew my feet would not make it that far in my very pretty, yet not-for-comfort heels. Foregoing the dainty, embellished clutch I had bought to go with my dress, I tucked my heels into a handbag, and slipped on a pair of comfortable walking shoes.
We arrived at Carnegie Hall about an hour before the performance. I changed into my dress shoes, and walked in on Chris’s arm. We felt like royalty, all dressed up and standing inside the doors of Carnegie Hall. And it only got better from there. The replacement tickets were waiting for us (remember, I left our tickets at home), so all that worry went right out the door. Honestly, I fretted about that all week, even after we were told it would be no problem to replace them.
They opened the bar after right after we received our tickets, and we all went in for a refreshing beverage before the concert.
Once the doors were opened, we easily found our seats on the first tier, which wrapped around either side of the auditorium, and very close to the stage. Our view of the stage was to be envied, for certain; but then we spared no expense on getting the best seats we could for the once-in-a-lifetime event we were about to experience.
For over 30 years, the Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall has honored high-school students with this amazing experience. This particular evening, however, would be the commencement for the Middle-School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall; and how exciting it was that Emily was part of it. The students in the choir, orchestra, and band traveled from various regions of the United States, Canada, Korea, China, and Guam.
The first group to enter the stage was the choir, they consisted of 120 students. My ~ did they ever sound amazing! A lady and her friend sitting behind us had a daughter singing in the choir, and it was evident their view was not as favorable as ours. Sid and I gladly traded them seats during the choir’s performance. I found myself closing my eyes and just “listening”; it was so beautiful, my eyes welled up with tears.
The orchestra performed next, with 80 students on stage. I have always had a great appreciation for stringed instruments, and their performance certainly did not disappoint. We continued to watch and listen, in amazement, taking in the remarkable talent, while reminding ourselves that we are sitting in one of the world’s most famous concert halls; it felt so much like a dream!
When the moment we had all waited for had finally arrived, we were overcome with so many emotions. Joy, pride, excitement, happiness, and relief. Emily appeared so confident, poised, professional, beautiful. I hung on to every note, every breath, every bow she took with her group of 100 students. Band will never have the same meaning to me, the bar has been lifted. Observing these middle-school students, after only a few days of rehearsal with each other and their conductor; was nothing short of awe-inspiring. It was the most surreal feeling to watch Emily perform, knowing she was one of 100 band students chosen by blind audition, and brought to NYC to be part of this amazing journey.
Check back soon for Day 7, the final day in NYC.