Vacation Benefits

As I suddenly stirred from my afternoon nap, I found myself in a situation that could only be described as perfect. In a hammock beneath a palm tree, swaying back and forth with the sea breeze, I stared out at Bermuda’s turquoise waves splashing onto the pink sand. Although I’d like to say that I spent the whole trip napping in the tropical shade (a great part of my experience), I had come for one reason: to sing. On its annual tour, Phillips Academy’s Cantata traveled to Bermuda during the first week of spring break. Cantata consists of an orchestra of around 50 instrumentalists and a choir of about 60 singers. But despite our group’s large size, the locals managed to accomodate us well. We left the snow behind at six on a Sunday morning. Having spent the night with a day student host, most of us looked like we could have used a few extra hours of sleep (by a few, I mean eight). Luckily, upon arrival, the sight of Bermuda brought a new life to the group of sleepy Andover students. Even on our first day, there seemed to be a wonderful surprise at every turn. “It was like I walked off the plane into the set of a Hollywood movie,” said Eliot Shimer ’07. As we waited in line to pass through immigration, a one-man salsa band welcomed and entertained us. Later, pink buses awaited us in the sun. Our hotel did not disappoint, either. The Elbow Beach Resort was complete with a heated swimming pool, hot tub, spa and fitness center, five star restaurant, and most importantly, its own beach. When we called home to our families that evening, we could hardly find the words to describe where we would be spending the next week. For the most part, we were kept rather busy with boat tours, visits to 19th century military bases, museums, and tango lessons. That being said, it was the time we had to ourselves that resonated the most for me. The afternoons I spent lingering on the beach, wandering about the local town of Hamilton, and napping in a hammock will remain in my memory. Some evenings, my roommates Charles Francis ’07 and Brooks Canaday ’07 and I would just hang out in our room with the doors and windows open, relaxing to the breeze. We would spend our time taking goofy pictures, playing guitar, and staying up late while talking about everything and nothing at all. After winter term, it was all I could have asked for. Although it may be a shock, I came to Bermuda to do more than just tan. Part of the choir, my responsibility extended to a brief hour or so of rehearsal time and little more than two hours performing. Much of the rest of the week in Bermuda was left mostly to my discretion with the addition of a few group activities. That left about twelve hours of sun-time in exchange for every fifteen minutes of singing – not too shabby a trade. Needless to say, I enjoyed this arrangement. We held three performances, two at relatively low-key venues. The first was at a private school, where we sang for an assembly of grade-school children. It was a fun concert, and our director, Instructor of Music William Thomas, did what he could to impress the kids with our orchestra. Evidently, it went well, as afterwards a mob of fourth and fifth graders tried to get autographs from our principal cellist Meta Weiss ’05. At a church in Hamilton, we also performed an impromptu concert which featured Luis Ortiz ’05 on piano, playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in E Flat Major. Although we performed for a very small crowd, it was a worthwhile experience nonetheless. Our final performance was with the Bermuda Philharmonic Society at the Ruth Seaton James Center. With two rehearsals followed by a concert, we were given the opportunity to work with their choir and orchestra. It was a wonderful experience. Many of us received a great deal of tutelage and guidance from the skilled performers. The concert contained Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, a piano concerto featuring the Bermudan virtuoso, Mandy Wong. We also performed the Misa Tango, a modern stylized mass by Luis Bacalov. All in all, it was a spectacular final performance in Bermuda. When I think back on this vacation, not only will I hear a lot of Beethoven, Bach, and Bacalov, but also the sweet melody of Julian Dames ’05 singing The Backstreet Boys’ “Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely” on bus two. It was the moments between moments that truly made Bermuda amazing. Little experiences like going in the ocean at 10:30 at night and putting together Nutella and cold cut dinners with our Andover-trained resourcefulness – these experiences I will always remember.