Saturday, January 9, 2010

15 Minutes of Fame

Today was an incredible day for me as a writer. So often, writers work in isolation, and mostly I prefer it that way. Although I like people--well, at least my friends--well enough, I really do enjoy as much alone time as I can get. I think that's part of why I write. Even when people do read my writing, I am not usually present. They are reading somewhere else, often months or years after I wrote the words they read. Very, very rarely (whoa, I just used three adverbs in a row!) someone will contact me and tell me they liked a piece I wrote. That is so gratifying. Of course, it's not why I write, but it is nice to hear from a reader that they liked it. At least I know someone read it.

Today, my words were sung by hundreds of choir members in front of thousands of people, and even broadcast on TV. And I was present. And I had to go up and take a bow.

The story behind this event starts several months ago. Our state capitol has been undergoing renovation, remodeling, and restoration for the past few years, under the direction of a special commission. Part of that commission had to put together a rededication ceremony, and they asked my friend Paul to compose a special musical work for it. Paul is an incredible composer, and will be conducting one of his new works at Carnegie Hall this May. He and I collaborated on a piece at summer camp this past summer. In 2008, organist Sam Porter commissioned a piece from Paul for Sam and me to play for Boise Music Week. (For those of you who don't know, I play flute.)I could go on and on about Paul and his talents, but maybe another time. Suffice it to say, when he called me to ask if I would like to write the lyrics for this work, I was honored and humbled. (Okay, the fact that I was going to get paid for it didn't hurt. Don't tell anyone, but I would have done it for free, just because it's Paul.)

I started writing a poem focusing on what I love about Idaho: sawtooth craggled peaks, canyons, lakes, rivers, wildlife, star garnets, and the strong, friendly people here. Paul and I sat down and worked that poem into some usable lyrics with a chorus. Then he composed the most amazing music around that.

Today was the rededication ceremony, and my words were coming out of the mouths of hundreds of singers as I looked on. Hearing it all with the incredible music and accompaniment of the 25th Army band was something I cannot really describe. I was in awe. Hardly able to believe that my words, the ones I wrote from my heart, about a place I love so much, were up there, in public. They were so beautiful coming out musically.

That was my 15 minutes of fame--which was really more like 5 minutes. But it was so cool. People told me several times today how much they liked the words. It made me feel great. But it really was a combination of those words with that music that made it so wonderful. I just have no words (ironically) to describe how it felt. So thank you to all who heard it. And thank you so much to Paul for asking me to be a part of this and for writing incredible music.


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