After listening to and playing for an amazing performance at the Dwight-Englewood School (alma mater of my formmate Kasumi Quinlan ’15!), the Jazz Band and Orchestra crossed the Hudson and made our way into the heart of Manhattan. Our first stop was the Metropolitan Opera. To enter the building, we used an underground entrance usually reserved for the Met’s musicians, singers, actors, and dancers. Once inside we received a special presentation from Stefan Ragnar Hoskuldsson, principal flautist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and a few theater employees. It was quite an interesting session. We saw pictures documenting a day’s events at the Met (which can only be described as hectic), learned a bit more about the life a professional musician, watched a short clip showing the Met’s unique three stage system in action, and listened to Arete Warren, widow of 1952 Groton alumnus Bill Warren who was very involved in New York’s opera scene.
We also learned a bit about the two operas we were going to see. Iolanta is a Russian opera detailing the life and love of a blind girl whose father works hard to prevent her from finding out that she is blind. Bluebeard’s Castle is a scary, more thrilling opera focusing on the mystery of a man and the contents of his seven locked doors.
Before making our way back down to the reserved entrance, Michael You and I sneaked a peek of ground level in the Met’s auditorium. We walked right up to the stage and got to see the stagehands in action. The speed and precision with which they moved made for an amazing sight.
The next event on our schedule was a historical tour of the Lincoln Center. We visited the homes of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, New York City Ballet, and Julliard School. Each group had its own performance space and a unique history behind its architecture and design. During our tour we stumbled upon a ballet rehearsal in David H. Koch Theater. It was something that I had never seen before and beautiful thing to watch.
After our tour, the group split up to get dinner. A few students and I ate at a small hole-in-the-wall a couple of blocks off Broadway. Hanami Japanese Restaurant didn’t look like much, but its salmon teriyaki bento box was pretty good. We didn’t want to get too full, though, because we were going to a concert soon after.
That night Dianne Reeves performed in Rose Theater of Jazz at the Lincoln Center. I can honestly say that was one of the best performances I have ever seen. Dianne Reeves won her fifth Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance with her latest album Beautiful Life last Sunday. She came to New York to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend and make a centennial tribute to famed jazz vocalist Billie Holiday. Dianne Reeves brought everything to her show last night. The band was dynamic and interactive. Dianne invited the audience to sing, clap, and dance along with her. There was upbeat Latin music, a piece from Sarah Vaughan, and songs from several of Dianne’s albums. Dianne engaged the audience and taught us all a little bit about herself and the music that influenced her. My favorite song of the night was Nine. It described my childhood experience to a tee and gave seventeen-year-old me a chill of wistful nostalgia.
I tried to hang around after the performance to get an autographed CD from Dianne Reeves, but it was nearing eleven o’clock and the rest of the group was waiting for me. I ran back to the bus and rode to the hotel in preparation for another busy day. It was already past 11 pm by the time we arrived at the hotel.