My second day started early. The choir was scheduled for a devotional time with Steven Curtis Chapman starting at 7 am. I was downstairs about 20 minutes before and got on a line of about 5 people. I figured that I would save seats for my friends as a payback for the night before. When the doors opened, I was surprised to see my friends sitting in the front row with a seat saved for me! So I had a front row seat and enjoyed what SCC had to say that morning.
We had a quick break and then it was time to start rehearsing.
Our rehearsal schedule for the day consisted of a 3 hour time in the morning then about a 6 hour “free time” for sightseeing and then a second 3 hour rehearsal in the evening.
I had been fortunate to do this same type of experience in February 2014 at Carnegie Hall in NYC. As it turns out, about 80% of the choir were also repeating the experience. We also had the same conductor / choir director and we were singing all the same music. So as we started rehearsal, everything came together pretty quickly as it was more of a review for most of us.
During the morning rehearsal time, Steven Curtis Chapman is kind enough to take individual photos with each choir member. There are some staff in charge of organizing this while the rehearsal is taking place. They would come over to a row one at a time and have us go to a line in a side room for our picture time.
I have been an SCC fan for a very long time so it is always a thrill to have a few seconds to talk to him. A lot of people try to tell him a whole lot in the short time we have, but I just really make small talk and thank him for the opportunity. I had on my t-shirt from NYC so he knew I had sung in that choir and he thanked me for coming back. Then a quick picture and time to go back to rehearsing.
After the morning rehearsal, there was an hour of question and answer with SCC and his wife. They are very funny together and it was interesting to listen to their stories.
At around 12:30, we were finished until the evening. Two friends of mine who live in Baltimore decided to come down for the weekend since I would be there. I hadn’t seen them in over a year so it was so great that they decided to do that. They were just arriving at the hotel as I was finishing rehearsal so we quickly met up and went out for lunch.
We had planned to walk the National Mall and see all the monuments. We did just that but it was HOT! And we hadn’t seen each other in so long that we basically took a picture and moved onto the next monument while we kept talking and talking.
After our walk, we had an hour to relax over a Starbucks and then I headed back to rehearsal. Our 3 hour rehearsal ended up being about 2 hours because we had gone through everything we needed to. I texted my friends and we ended up meeting up for a drink in the hotel lounge area. We stayed up later than we should have but it was so much fun.
Back in June, I had a unique opportunity to travel to Washington DC with the purpose of singing in a choir at Kennedy Center. The choir sang behind Steven Curtis Chapman, a Christian music artist for his debut concert at Kennedy Center.
The weekend was a package through a company called True North. Included in the package was 3 nights at the JW Marriott, all the events of the weekend and a celebration dinner cruise after the concert on Sunday evening.
My trip started on a Friday with a drive down to DC. Google maps estimated a 4 ½ hour drive but with traffic and a few rest area stops it took me about 6 hours. I enjoyed it though. I love a good road trip. And while road trips with family and friends are fun, sometimes I like a solo trip too. I had an audio book to listen too which keep me occupied for most of the trip.
I arrived at the JW Marriott at around 4 pm. Check in was easy and the hotel was beautiful. It had an interesting elevator system. Instead of pressing a button to indicate that you wanted to go up or down, you instead pressed what floor you would like to go to. The screen will then tell you what elevator to get on (each elevator had a letter). Once you got on, it would go directly to your floor. This was great when you were the only one waiting for an elevator. It was not so much fun when 150 choir members were all trying to go to their rooms at the same time.
I had no scheduled plans until much later in the evening and the hotel was right in the heart of DC. I was hoping to make it to a museum for a few hours but I knew they closed at 5:30. I decided to head to the closest museum which was the Smithsonian Museum of American History. As I approached the entrance, there was a sign that said they were extending their hours that day until 7:30. Perfect!!
I can’t remember the last time I was at the American History museum. I decided to just start at the top and work my way down. One of my favorite exhibits was the Star Spangled Banner Flag. The flag is the one that Francis Scott Key saw when he wrote the Star Spangled Banner. It was displayed in a huge dark room, illuminated in black light with the words to the song behind it. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed.
Another exhibit had various original items, such as the actual Count muppet from Sesame Street, Mohammed Ali’s boxing gloves, Apollo Ono’s speed skates and other similar items. All were fun to look at.
I have been on a bit of a Julia Child kick so it was also cool to see her exhibit. They had her actual kitchen as well as items like her diploma and first cookbook.
After I finished up there, I was going to walk over to the White House for some pictures but the weather had other ideas. It had started to get dark and windy and then I saw a streak of lightening. So I grabbed a quick bite for dinner and headed back to the hotel.
That evening at 10 pm was the first scheduled event. Steven Curtis Chapman was doing a private concert for the choir members in a ballroom of the hotel. I met up with friends who were awesome and had gotten on line early so we managed to sit in the 2nd row. I have been a SCC fan for a long, long time and have seen many concerts but this was definitely unique. He sang some songs and then took requests which was a lot of fun. No one wanted it to end but it had to wrap up around 11:15 because we had an early start the next morning. It was definitely an excellent way to start the weekend.
I have been a huge Disney and travel fan since childhood. I love going to new places and, of course, heading to Disney as often as I can.