Sunday, February 03, 2008

Cheryl and Joe

Cheryl and Joe
Originally uploaded by gr8what
This is the introduction I gave for Cheryl at the awards.

“Somehow it has all added up to song.”

That line, from The Peace of Wild Things, the work Cheryl conducted with us in Carnegie Hall, pretty much sums up Cheryl Anderson: But other songs can add to this story.

In Aaron Copeland’s The Tenderland, we sang “The promise of living, the promise of growing is labor, and sharing, and loving.”

Cheryl is an alchemist: it is her life’s work to turn lead into gold, to transmute the common into the extraordinary. The gold she creates is music brought to life; the common material she is transmuting is us, her singers. That transformation happens through her labor, her sharing, and her loving.

It takes a lot of labor to do what Cheryl does. As a matter of fact, most people think that Cantiamo is Italian for “Let’s sing.” Actually, it means “You’ll work harder than you ever thought you could!” We have decided that the Cantiamo motto is “Nos mos somnus ut nos es mortuus:” We’ll sleep when we’re dead.” But we don’t mind working that hard because first of all, we know Cheryl is working harder than we are, and because she shares with us her deep love and passion for the music we are creating.

In The Rune of Hospitality, we sang “I saw a stranger yestere’en: I put food in the eating place, Drink in the drinking place, music in the list’ning place, and he blessed myself and my dear ones.”

These words remind me that Cheryl loves to party, and dance, and eat great food, and have a wonderful time with her friends. We have closed down more restaurants in more cities than I can remember; we have sung more 20-part, no-melody happy birthdays to strangers at adjoining tables than I can count, and when Cheryl is around, we are always the last table to clear out after a wedding party, a bat mitzvah, a post-concert celebration or, well, after anything actually. If the song had included putting shoes in the shopping place and hound dogs in the howling place, it would have really described Cheryl.

But as fun as she is, the real reason we love her, the reason we would walk over broken glass to sing for her, is because she makes us better than we think we can be.

Harry Kemp wrote “But chief of all thy wondrous works, supreme of all thy plan, thou has put an upward reach into the heart of man.”

That’s what Cheryl has done for us. She has taken a bunch of little kids and students, teachers and doctors and the occasional bureaucrat and turned us into singers who perform at Carnegie Hall. She opened our hearts to dreams we didn’t dare dream, and she helped us make those dreams come true.

“Somehow it has all added up to song.”

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present Cheryl Anderson.

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