Voices West was fantastic, even for Fiona and me, who weren’t directly participating. Two hundred and eighty singers, a performance hall packed with a thousand people, meals and billets and sight-seeing and travelling and meeting new people and finally hearing Kokopelli and Coastal Sound sing live … it was a great weekend.
We billeted four members of one of the Edmonton choirs, plus unofficially billeting one of Sophie’s out-of-town choir-mates. I love that the house now has enough finished rooms, bedding and mattresses of various descriptions to host guests. Perhaps not five at a time in future, not without adding a bathroom, but in smaller numbers easily: we even now have a designated guest room. This is something our New Denver house has never really been capable of. (The other thing I love about the Nelson house is that it has a living room that is large enough and shaped properly to function as a gathering place. What a treat!)
Fiona and I cooked for Voices West for the major pre-performance meal. The host choir director had responsibilities beautifully organized and distributed. Fiona had spent an afternoon a couple of weeks earlier in a church kitchen helping cook about 50 litres of Bengali Dal and get it into the freezer. We had baked our contribution of several dozen gluten/dairy-free cookies, and 3 litres of Glory Bowl Dressing at home, part of the distributed prep network. And then on the day of the big dinner at the hall, we showed up at noon and got to work. There was a beautiful industrial kitchen with four big ranges, two huge wall ovens and a floor to ceiling warming oven, a dozen 25-litre heavy-bottomed saucepans and everything else you could imagine. We set to work cooking and organizing and doling out. There were twelve of us, and so much had been prepped ahead of time that we ended up a little ahead of schedule which was lovely. Then at 5 o’clock the choirs began rolling through the serving line in waves. We served an average of one meal every 12 seconds for an hour and it worked beautifully. None of the soy, nut, dairy or gluten-allergic singers got sick. The only glitch was when a line briefly formed at the self-busing station and created some obstruction at the serving line; we got that untangled quickly.
Once meals were served we had less than an hour to wash everything: three hundred place settings of dishes and trays, every last dish, pot, chafing pan and serving spoon, the tables and floors, and all the extra food also needed to be cleaned up, put in storage containers and packed away. We didn’t quite get it done of course, though the attempt was valiant and almost successful. Fiona worked incredibly hard, and with ruthless efficiency, as did others, but there were some details that had to be looked after during and after the performance.
It was Sophie’s birthday weekend, too, and it was a great way for her to enjoy it though we saved cake and family gifts for the following weekend. The cake had gluten, dairy and nuts in it after all!