"HERE TO PLAY"
by Christina MAV-dempsey
Good morning, Ed:
How's work?! Thought I'd write and tell you how the camp went this weekend. After just two weeks of being married - it was hard being away from you for so long although immersing myself in music, friends, and the California weather helped.
The flight from Chicago was blissfully uneventful. Thank GOD for Johanna! Her wedding present, a round-trip ticket, made this weekend possible! With such support and generosity, is there any question she's earned the nickname "Wonder Woman"?!?
BTW, the MAV clan sends their love. I don't think they understand the compulsion to perform. They probably figured I'd settle down into marital domesticity and give the corps-thing a rest. Mom's first question: "Can't you march with someone closer?" Ah, Mom. "They aren't really an option." Am I lucky or what? A husband who not only appreciates and understands, but encourages this 'quest'. I am blessed.
Saturday morning began at Gilman's to load up the GD Truck with the usual suspects: GDAl, Greg, Richard G., etc. with Josh Powell. I love getting my Renegade weekend started with these guys, good talk, heavy moving and the anticipation that we'll be creating music. Most of the good feelings were dashed however, when we landed in standstill traffic on the 101. Not one but two crashes including a car flip. Fortunately, cruisin' into T.I. with its crisp view of the SF skyline eased both shoulders and heart rate down.
With Ed Teleky in town, us poor slobs in the Anti-Pit knew it was going to be a challenging two days, but we were up to the task. Ed, a brilliant composer and a hard taskmaster, will catch you on a good performance as well as poor. It is his music. He knows how it is supposed to sound. I've learned so much from this man: No excuses. Retain direction. But more than anything, his words to me last year have been engrained: "You are here to play." He wrote me three runs on keyboard this year. What amazing faith and trust. I haven't played with mallets in *an undisclosed amount of years.*
During the traditional Saturday lunch potluck, I hob-knobbed with the Evil Cymbal brigade. They are down a player and you know I had second thoughts. Then I realized even with the pound-reducing drill, great friends, and visual fun of being a cymbal player, I adore my pitsters and thrive on Ed's challenging music.
Most of the morning was devoted to tearing the Part I ending to shreds, music we had received the previous month but never tackled together. Set up in the main room instead of the tiny squashed backroom made conditions 100% better and conducive to actual conditions. We pushed thru the new Part II music, our ballad, in the afternoon.
During the dinner break, the newly named Renegades I&E Choir Aural Pleasures
with Josh Powell - met in the Cymbal Room for our monthly rehearsal. We have a new bass voice - Tom Wieske - that pushes our total number to 26. Skipper Clint has been working on an arrangement combining "Mission: Impossible" with the Latin ear-popper "O Fortuna." He presented two minutes of the work on midi and we were floored! It's going to take some extra time to pull it together - but what a presentation it will be! Show title? "Mission: Fortuna." I told Clint your suggestion of the choir dressing as the Gordon fisherman and renaming the piece "Mission: For Tuna."
The evening session consisted of the usual percussion ensemble then full corps set. "Loud is Good" should contain a caveat: with earplugs. These all-too-short gatherings are literally ear numbing. Imagine Blue Devils horns blaring in a one-bedroom. Vanguard drums squished in a Eurovan. The sound rocks, but filters help. Ed, how can I explain the sheer exhilaration as we play the music as one unit? The "Carmen" death notes batter our chest. Whenever possible, I watch the snares pound drumheads in almost tribal fury and I recall the GE Judge from last years final's tape: "How mean can you get?!!!" Obviously, he's going to know: even meaner!
To end the day, Chris gave corps notes and issued a well-earned red star to Steve Proud, Mayor of T.I. We are told Steve accepted a new position away from T.I., and thus our beautiful rehearsal site is gone. It is a somber moment, but we stand and applaud the man who secured us such a dream for so many months.
Sunday, I wake up to find my neck is stiff. My neck? I can understand arms or calves given the way we are conditioned to stand, but my neck? And then I realize why: I play chimes and at the incredible height of 5', I have to stretch muscles - including many neck ones - to reach the notes. Cool! Now if only the bingo arms will follow suit.
That morning, we give up an extra hour of sleep to hear Shirley Doritties captivating presentation on performance. At one point, she requests we put ourselves into an uncomfortable position. VKGarry and I look at each other, laughing, and assume the "pit stance." Pit cheers to Angie, the only percussionist lector volunteer.
Back to work, we give Part II a second look. The morning is tough, tension high, but we are here to play. For lunch, I drive Rich, Angie, and Kirsten to the Emeryville market. As a first-timer, I spot nearly the entire staff and a number of horns enjoying a myriad of culinary fare. We settle for Greek gyros and community chat. It's a favorable pit-bonding hour.
For the final afternoon on Rehearsal Site X, the corps rehearsed on blacktop. Except for Kimela in resilient posture with shorts and a tank-top, we pulled our jackets and hoods tighter as the pleasant air turned bitter cold. Oh, and we have a new pitman, Roland, who has moved into our frontline. Roland has corps experience with Spirit of Atlanta.
When in the course of knee-deep rehearsals, you can't seem to see or hear the big picture. It is only when pictures and music on the web provide unprejudiced proof, we can actually say, "We're good!"
Staggeringly good! The kind that makes you want to invite everyone to be part of the success - to shout it from the highest mountain. And then you realize there really is a long way to go. We still have to master Part II and learn the remaining parts. The ups and downs of the weekend - missing friends, making friends, marveling at the music, the drill, the staff - made this story a journey worth taking.
Thanks for letting me be a part of it - to be here to play.
Love from your new wife,