Sunday, March 20, 2005

Oh Say, Can You Sing?

I had an interesting time this afternoon when my alumni group went to the National Anthem auditions for the Rangers It was definitely an experience; I had heard that a lot of people who try out for these things just...plain...can't...sing. And we heard some of that, but some good ones as well. It was also very well-organized; they had thirty acts scheduled per hour (with a suggested maximum time of no more than a minute and a half apiece), so things actually ran ahead of schedule. Here were some of the high- and lowlights of the day:

--I think I heard each of the twelve possible keys used today...and that was by only one person (not really, of course, but he was one of many who modulated at least five times).

--I wish I'd gotten to hear the tuba quartet; people said they were really good. There weren't that many instrumentalists there (not counting us, since we were singing), but I think I saw a mariachi group walk in.

--If you blow the lyrics, you blow your chance. The best misappropriation we heard today:
Whose broad stripes and bright stars
Through the perilous fight
Gave proof through the night
That our flag was still streaming.

The audience was polite for everyone, though you could tell they were all groaning inwardly after hearing that.

--Clothes don't always make the man (or woman). A lady in semi-sloppy C&W attire sounded quite good; it reminded me of the girl who came into the college for scholarship auditions a few years ago wearing a baseball shirt and flip-flops and sang opera like nobody's business.

--Besides the guy early on, there were more than a few people who started out in one key and went to another (or several others); the usual changing point was the "and the rockets' red glare" part for those who realized that they'd started waaaaay too high.

--One of the main things they said before the auditions began was that "traditional" versions of the Anthem would be given preference--in other words, don't jazz it up beyond recognition. Guess what one of the first people to audition actually did...

--Some of the little kids did really well, though not all; this was quite different from a few years ago at the Rangers games when they had people sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" with the organ, back when they still had a live organist. At that time, if it was a 9-year-old girl singing, she almost always nailed it; if it was an adult, look out. The organ always played it in C, and I heard a lady sing along in G for the whole Then the next season, I heard another lady sing it in G-flat *shudder*. That almost takes talent. Now, granted, the 9-year old girl would always sound like she was auditioning for Annie (take mmmmmeeeeeeeeeeee out to the baaaaaaall-game...), but she would nail the key way better than the adults.

Oh, and it was also cool to meet a few alumni there who weren't part of our group (a few of us, myself included, had letter shirts on; I did that since the only red shirt I own has them on). We even met one from my own chapter from fifty years ago! So we'll see what happens; results come out in a few weeks.

Oh say, you can remember the words too: There's a new movement underway called the National Anthem Project; its goal is for people to learn the words to the Star Spangled Banner, since a recent study shows that two out of three adults don't know them all. I bet that would be a good subject for Jay Leno's "Jay Walking" segment on the Tonight Show.

(MIS)QUOTE OF THE DAY: This happened while talking with one of the old alums, a member of a barbershop quartet that auditioned. He was mentioning another quartet that was also auditioning...

ALUMNI PRES: So, are those guys your rivals, then?
WHAT THE OLD ALUM ACTUALLY SAID: No, they've already sung.
(Nervous laughter ensued.)

I guess being an instrumentalist does destroy your hearing faster than usual...

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