March 2012

... La Grande, storm-e

Monday, February 20, 2012 - Monday, February 28, 2012

Last year was my first time going to Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, and I remember having such a wonderful time. The second time round did not disappoint!
We departed on Monday the 20th, and headed out, making a brief stop in Pendelton for lunch. Upon arrival we were immediately in rehearsal for the two scenes that we would be performing with the students. It was great to see Jamie and Peter, as well as some familiar and new student faces.
The change in altitude and climate was a bit of a shock to our voices, but the tour must continue and we made our way out to Pine Eagle School, in Halfway (yes, insert witty "Halfway" joke here). We had a memorable classroom time, as we all got to team up to do our classroom time, two to a class. A learning opportunity for us to see what our colleagues are up to! The school fed us a great lunch, and on our way back to prepare for the show, a little snowball fight had ensued. It had been snowing since yesterday, and it was the good sticky stuff, just right for snowmen.
Wednesday and Thursday were packed full of lessons, masterclasses and rehearsals. We only broke for one very special tradition that has begun on the tour... David, our collaborative pianist, last year introduced us to The Room. I talked about this movie on the blog a bit last year, but any description I give of this film could never do it justice, so I will choose to leave my comments in my pocket. We promised that we would wait until Alexis could join us to observe this precious tradition and had a "La Grande" time (HA HA.... oh... just me?...ok) and were happy to see that the newest members of POGO embraced it with open arms.
Friday was exciting as we did last minute preparation for the show that evening. The audience was phenomenal, and we are so thankful for their support by coming out to watch all the work the students have done over the last couple months. There were some excellent scenes that ran the gamut from hilarious to very touching. We here honored to be a part of it.
On Saturday night, we had the joy of being a part of the Elgin Opera House's 100th anniversary and performing a benefit concert for them. It is a beautiful historical opera house. We enjoyed watching and listening to each other, as we got to try out lots of new concert repertoire specially for this concert. We were also happy to finally get to feature David's talents as a pianist and not just a collaborator, twice....... well.... sort of (he was interrupted the first time by a soprano... typical). Another favorite that we enjoy in La Grande is the post-concert Denny's trips. Shout out to Tony, our awesome waiter on both nights of shows.
Sunday was a nice day off to recharge our batteries, and we were back at it again on Monday with a two hour ride to Annex to perform for them. The weather was beautiful and typical of the region, sunny and dry, and big sky that reminded a lot of us of our home towns. The school lunch lady charmed Stacey and Dru with a little tour of the school basement where a bank robber was killed in the 40's trying to hide out with his loot!
For the evening, we crossed state lines into Idaho for a night in Weiser where we popped into Weiser Classic Candy for some of their famous Velvet Mints and ended up chumming with the locals at the Crescent Bar. We sang Happy Birthday to a couple of patrons, and partook in some pool and Rock Band with the local ladies who call themselves  'The Wannabeats'. Sadly, although we work for Portland Opera and have had extensive vocal training, our Rock Band skills left much to be desired.
We took off relatively early for a quick breakfast at the Homstead Cafe, and began our long journey back to Portland. We did make one much needed coffee/tea pit stop at the 10-Speed Coffee in Mosier, a new favorite, I think.

- Ainsley Soutiere, Gretel