When we last left our intrepid ringers they were scattered throughout Virginia enjoying their day off. Click here to go to the beginning of the story.
Derek getting a selfie with Thomas Jefferson at MONTICELLO.
Day 7 – DC: Today was a free day for everyone in the group. Some people explored museums around DC, including the Air and Space and American History museums. Some people went to the national zoo. Others decided to take the day to relax and work in the hotel. The day was a much needed break and a chance to explore the east coast.
By the end of the the day though we were back on the road, since our load into the venue in Harrisonburg, Virginia was at 10pm.
Sonos teaching a master class at the Forbes center on the campus of James MADISON University.
Day 8 – Bring on the sixth graders: The Forbes Center at James Madison University is a spectacular performance space, and our home for the day. After a quick set up and rehearsal, we presented our first master class for the day. The audience was 500 sixth graders. According to the center staff it was the largest group of students they have brought in at once. You could feel their energy and excitement, but mostly that was due less to us and more to not being in school. They were a great audience and asked lots of questions about the bells and us. Jim did this exercise where we would play an excerpt from one of our pieces and asked the students how the piece made them feel, and their responses were well thought out. Words like “Egyptian”, “mysterious”, and “whimsical” were tossed out by the kids. Who says sixth graders can’t think critically?
The staff at the Forbes Center took amazing care of us. In addition to feeding us lunch and dinner, they made sure we had everything we needed. From fantastic lighting to stage hands directing us around backstage, they treated us like true professionals. We found out later that our show was the first show for many of the stage hands, which is a testament to the fantastic leadership of the center.
Audience members coming on stage after a master class to ask questions
After a quick master class that afternoon for local bell ringers and university students, it was show time. We filled the 500 seat auditorium and played a wonderful concert. The hall sounded beautiful. The audience was receptive. The bells looked great. It was everything we could ask for.
Day 9 – 743 miles: In stark contrast to the great day before, day 9 was a driving day. A very long driving day. We did the drive between Harrisonburg, Virginia to Saint Louis, Missouri in one day. The drive took the entire day and wiped us out.
There’s one other person traveling with the group, without whom this trip would not be possible. David Kail, husband of Sonosian Lois Kail, is traveling with us as our tour manager. Dave is incredible. He’s always staying one step ahead of us at hotels and venues, coordinating with the staff to make sure we have everything we need. When we pull up to every hotel he’s already there with our room keys sorted our. At each show, Dave is our coordinator with the house staff keeping our stress levels down. Dave also famously (or infamously) writes limericks all the time. Here is his limerick about day 9:
The drive, however, was definitely worth it. Our venue in Saint Louis is by far the most spectacular venue I had ever seen. But you’ll have to wait for the next post to learn more.