Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Choir Trip 2016

Tuesday Kristie and I returned from helping chaperone the choir trip to New York.

As Dickens once wrote, "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times."

Actually, the only bad part was the toll it took on my feet.  On our first day in New York I believe we walked at least 10 miles.  Someone checked their fitbit and noted that over the course of the trip they amassed 100,000 steps!

Despite some sore and later swollen feet - and a total lack of sleep - it was a trip of a life time.

Here are some of the highlights -

As soon as our busses arrived in Manhattan, we got out to take a walk over the Brooklyn bridge.  It was amazing . . . the was just one problem: I had to use the bathroom.  Luckily, after the walk I was able to find our busses and use it . . . finally!

The architecture and design was amazing, as were the views of the skyscrapers.

Then we visited the Freedom Tower.  Last time I was on the choir trip - 2004 - there was still just a massive hole in the ground and a single cross, made from the girders in the basement, commemorating the attacks.

Now, this amazing structure stands close to where the Twin Towers were.  The majority of the building is devoted to business, but the top floors are an observatory while a few blocks away is a memorial.

The elevator ride up 80 flights takes only a few seconds and, as you ascend, the walls of the elevator turn to screens that display the history of the city around you as it grew into New York City.  It also displays the construction of the buildings around you.

The views are amazing.

It was wonderful having Kristie as a fellow chaperone.

The technology the presenter used was interactive and quite cutting edge.  This reminded me of the tech used in Minority Report.

The most powerful moment of the trip - besides the choir concert at Alice Tully Hall - was the tour of the 911 museum and memorial.

The lone surviving girders.

We delved into the basement where the museum was housed.

The NY skyline will never be the same.

Who can ever forget.

I believe this was the "survivors" stairway as it was an emergency stairwell that helped thousands escape the towers before their collapse.

Perhaps the most powerful part of the trip.  This is an artist's tribute to the victims.  There are close to two thousand individual pieces of blue paper here (one for each victim).  The sky on September 11, 2001 was a vivid blue.  So this artist used 2,000 different shades of blue, one for each unique person killed that day.

Below is a firetruck that stood just outside the towers.  Every firefighter that rode to the towers on this truck died.  They were as high up in the building as they could possibly go.  They had no illusions of escaping the building.  Their sole goal was to get as many people out as they could before it collapsed.  Thanks to their heroic efforts - and the efforts of all the other emergency rescue people - 15,000 people escaped.  Our guide noted that very few people ever talk about that.  What a sacrifice.

This is actually the cab of the truck, which was shredded from debris.

The fountains below stand at the base of each tower.  The names of those who died are inscribed around the base.

We were fortunate enough to be attending when word reached Kristie that there was going to be a moment of silence for the mass shooting in Orlando.  What are the odds of us being there to witness this?  

Another highlight was an impromptu trip from the cathedral of Saint John the Devine to see the location of the diner from Seinfeld.

The cathedral was as inspiring as you would think a cathedral would be.  The architecture, the beauty, the power . . . it was like being in the presence of the divine.  As I walked into the massive structure, I couldn't help but realize my own insignificance in the face of such beauty and glory.

Of course, the poet's corner inside was one of my first stops.

These were new additions to the cathedral since I had been in there 12 years ago.  Since the cathedral is non-denominational, it is a mixture of various faiths.  I couldn't help but think of Mexico's The Day of the Dead when I saw these new additions.

Of course, the new additions added a juxtaposition to the classical altars.

What trip to New York wouldn't be complete with out a visit to Times Square.  This made me feel insignificant too, but it a much different way.

We saw three musicals - The Lion King (quite interesting), Fiddler on the Roof (amazing), and Cirque le say Paramour (great).  It was amazing just to walk down the streets and see all of the glamour.

One of the coolest things - which I actually missed out on - was a trip to MOMA.  Kristie's group (known as Kristie's Clique) did tour it, and they were kind enough to send me this picture with my favorite Lichtenstein painting.

And now the highlight of the whole trip - the concert.

Here is the review of the choir concert at Alice Tully Hall.  I think he nailed it.  It was a truly amazing thing to witness!

One of our students, the amazingly talented, Caleb, shot this video recapping the trip -

After the concert we took a harbor cruise, which was beautiful.  Unfortunately, my camera doesn't take great outdoor, evening pictures, so I was only able to capture it all in my mind, but it was worth every second!

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