The Fellowship of Groton Musicians

Dawn graced Sunday with its rose-tinged rays, bringing life to the frozen wastelands of New Jersey as we noble young musicians awoke to meet the opportunities and challenges of warming the souls of strangers and familiar faces alike with strains of beautiful music. We trouped to the elevators and stairwells of our now-familiar Hilton Hotel, gradually individually descending towards our morning meal. The day ahead would be taxing, yet rewarding; proper nourishment would be necessary if we were to endure its stresses and strains.

Our first pursuit on that Sabbath day was to reacquaint ourselves with the wonders of the city we have come to love with all of our bountiful compassion through a guided tour of those boroughs we had not yet reconnoitered in full. A jolly, kindly, loquacious Scotch Irishman, knowledgeable in all of New York’s winding ways, joined us for the day. As our Sherpa through the frigid concrete mountain ranges of New York’s streets and avenues, he guided us through SoHo and Chinatown, bestowing upon us what little of his vast wisdom he could in the time we had. He pointed out for us great landmarks, such as the Brooklyn Bridge with its majestic towers, each topped with the most potent symbol of our great nation, the flag of the United States of America, stars and stripes resplendent.

After our tour concluded, we were all ready for some sustenance to preserve our fragile frames through the hours ahead. Thankfully, we were offered asylum by the family of one of our companions. Joe Collins and his family were hospitable enough to offer us shelter and succor in their apartment, providing welcome refuge from the bitter cold of the sorry streets. Alas, our stay was but temporary, as our duty called us back onto the desolate highways and byways of noble New York. We thanked the Collins for their charity, bade them farewell, and continued our quest to enrich the spirits of all around us with the beauty of music.

First, however, we consulted our predecessors in artistic pursuits for inspiration, lest our creativity die unnourished in the glacial atmosphere of winter’s frost. We entered the Metropolitan Museum of Art, hoping to find our way to greater musicality and artistry through examining the works of our antecedents. Roaming through the halls, our spirits thrived, bathed in artistry and enveloped by creativity. Renewed, we departed from the museum to our evening meal.

We arrived at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle thoroughly prepared for the ordeal ahead. Bearing the tools of our musical trade to the space in which we were to prepare, we earnestly commenced to practice, determined to triumph in that which we were to do. Once all were prepared, the concert came to life. Soul Sauce, the Groton School jazz band, opened the performance with five pieces that gripped the attention of the viewer, grasping their heart and demanding not only applause, but a true emotional response. Following that tear-jerking display, the Riverside ensemble, a more select group of time-tested jazz veterans, played three pieces. Each virtuoso performance astonished the audience. Saxophone trills and drum solos echoed against the Romanesque stone walls of the church, supported by a bass backbone. It was practically transcendent.

Next, small chamber music groups, hand-picked from the Chamber Orchestra, emerged to perform. Their performances were displays of skill like little else before. Technical prowess was their watchword as fingers flew across strings and keys, while bows drew forth beauty from violins and cellos.

Finally, the Chamber Orchestra closed the night with three pieces. In that space, pieces that we had practiced many times took on an entirely different character. The incredible reverb of that space added a majestic quality to every note. Everything on the page shone forth in splendor and clarity, while final chords echoed in harmonic glory. It was a pleasure to play in such a locale; ne’er had we experienced such a chamber for our orchestra.

Though playing was a pleasure, the day exhausted the fellowship of music. After thanking everyone for coming, especially Mr. and Mrs. Maqubela, who were in Florida as of Saturday and fought a blizzard tooth and nail to make it, we departed dead tired, ready for a long night’s slumber before our return journey the next day.

-Alaric Krapf and Peter Nam

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