I previously said that there were two “most” memorable moments in my professional career. Both that I recalled had to do with music, however; as Claudia noted, getting my first check for something I wrote was a big deal, too.
Unfortunately, the passage of time has dimmed the details of my second pinnacle performance having to do with music. The event itself still rings, however. Again, it was in the late 1970s when I attended a conference of the Institute of Outdoor Drama in Canyon, Texas. The meeting itself may have been in Amarillo but the part of the meeting I remember most took place in Palo Duro Canyon on the evening before the meeting ended.
We went to the site of the outdoor musical drama, Texas, which was performed on a stage constructed on the floor of the magnificent canyon. The play’s season was over for that year but the Texas Symphony Orchestra was to perform at the theater for the conference that night.
Paul Green, the noted North Carolinian who had written The Lost Colony among other works, wrote the original Texas play. So at some point during the conference there was talk of the connection of Paul Green and so many other outdoor dramas around the country. It was suggested that maybe we (the attendees) should do something to demonstrate that connection that night at the orchestra performance. After some informal discussion it was determined that “Carolina in the Morning” would be an appropriate song to sing to demonstrate the connection and the North Carolina delegation would perform it… sans rehearsal with the orchestra.
On the bus ride out to the canyon site some members, professionals to the core, felt uncomfortable singing without any rehearsal. The result of all that reluctance was that I was appointed to “lead” the group in the singing. What actually happened was that normally outgoing, extroverted actors and actresses, stopped singing after the first few bars of “Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning….”and I finished the song by myself. Just me and the Texas Symphony Orchestra.
It was almost dusk and the setting sun had created a beautiful light around the rim of the canyon. A clear blue sky covered it. A crisp breeze gave a slight chill to the air. And in the midst of that setting, so many miles from Hallsboro, North Carolina, I sang of home with the beautiful accompaniment of a great orchestra.
Miss Annie Elkins, my high school chorus teacher, would have been proud.