The concerts were finished and our voices were gone. All of us were looking forward to Monday, our free day in the city. We had a long bus ride back from Bogalusa, so most of us took a quick nap. Dr. Mathews was kind enough to allow us to sleep in the next morning before our ventures in the French Quarter.
The day started off with us splitting into groups and going all different directions. The group I was with made a random stop at an art gallery. What normally would have cost us to tour the place turned out to be a visit on the house. The curator (an 80+ year old Frenchman) told our group about every painting and the style in which they were painted. Because these were 150+ years old and done before photography, the paintings cost a pretty penny (the cheapest I saw was $25,000!). The second floor was open to the first and a balcony ran the perimeter of the room. Our group looked at these paintings and then got the idea of singing for the curator since he and his staff were so kind to us. They enthusiastically said yes and we sang “The Love of God.” The staff absolutely adored it and the curator was crying by the time we finished. He left us with this: “All but two things in this world need a language to connect people. The two things that don’t are art and music. I got to experience both today. Thank you.”
We ate lunch at a small cafe Called The Original Pierre Maspero’s. Holding true to a Monday Cajun tradition, I had a nice helping of red beans and rice. I was the only person to finish my food completely. It was THAT GOOD. Our servers advised us to pack the rest of our food in to-go boxes and hand them out to homeless people that were hungry. We had never thought of that before. Due to the great service and awesome food, we left sweet messages and great tips.
We hit a few souvenir shops before meeting some of our friends down by the river. As we walked together, I noticed a group ahead of us in matching shirts that looked about our age. I wondered if they might be a touring choir as well. Not wanting to bother them, we kept moving. But one of the guys from that group came up to us and asked if we were an a capella choir. I said, “Well, we sing a capella, but we are’t the type you’re thinking of.” It turns out that they were The Ransom Notes, an a capella choir from the University of Chicago on tour. There was a performance pavilion close by, so all of us decided to get together and sing…FOR 45 MINUTES! We had such a blast! We sang for each other and with each other and made some sweet harmony. Several crowds came by with cameras and phones and seemed to really enjoy us. This was one of those serendipity moments that don’t come very often in life.
My boss Ericka told me before the trip that no matter what else I did, I had to have coffee and beignets from Cafe Du Monde. That’s where we headed next. OH. MY. LANTA. Those beignets were sent straight from heaven. Although, my teeth did feel a bit rotten once I ate them all…
That was the end of our free time in the quarter and we bussed back to the hotel for some rest before we departed for dinner that evening. Someone had brought a soccer ball and suggested we play Music Major Soccer (which includeds non-majors as well). We did and had so much fun with it. Our feet were disgusting and we smelled like the pits afterwards, but none of us minded. We ate supper that night at the New Orleans Seafood and Hamburger Company, a Union treat. Once we finished, we had the idea to sing for our supper. Our director was oblivious to the fact that we planned on singing one thing and telling him we wanted to sing something else. The face he made when we started was priceless.
And that wraps up my first Singers tour. What a time I had with these people who have become family to me. I can’t wait for our INTERNATIONAL trip next year!