Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Last night I had the opportunity to go on a tour at the Eastman School of Music.  It's a part of the University of Rochester, and they are just one of the units that I help raise money for.  Our student callers were going on a tour, and despite the fact it was already a busy day, I really wanted to go.  We had a morning all-staff meeting on the main campus, and our department had to leave that early because we needed to staff an event in another part of the same building.  We had 600 students writing thank you notes to donors for about three hours!  So after stopping back in the office for an hour, off I went to the city.

I've been to the school twice before--once a couple weeks ago for a work event (similar to the one I worked yesterday), and once just over a year ago when I went to see the gorgeous Chihuly sculpture in the atrium of the newest building on campus.  I'd known it was there, but with it in an area of downtown I was rarely near on foot, I had never gotten a chance to see it.  But last year when I was off of work and made it my mission to accomplish a few random adventures, I finally did it.  But that was the only part of the school I felt comfortable exploring at the time, and once I started my new job and saw photos of other parts of the school, I realized there was a lot of beauty hanging out on that corner of downtown Rochester.  Last night was my chance to see it all in person.

Initially I was hesitant to pull out my camera for fear of looking like a dork, but the beauty won me over.  The view that put me over the top was this one, sitting in the seats below the amazing chandelier in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.  It was hard to capture it because the light was so bright, but I like the way this shot turned out anyway. 

We saw some other gorgeous performance spaces, both new and old, both classic and technologically superior.  I wish I would have taken a picture of Hatch Recital Hall, which has these amazing wooden slat panel walls that can actually adjust to make perfect acoustics depending on the instrument.  I was just floored by the beauty in every single space.  If you have a couple minutes, Google "Kilbourn Hall" and "Hatch Recital Hall".  You'll be impressed.

We did, of course, go into the East Wing and see the Chihuly again.  This time I was on a different level so I got a couple different perspectives.  Unfortunately it wasn't quite dark enough for it to be more illuminated (externally), as I would have loved a chance to see it lit differently than I've seen it previously.

We ended up going back into Kodak Hall to see the breathtaking view from the balcony, and I was stunned by the depth of the three-dimensional detail above the chandelier that I didn't really notice from the floor.  It was so striking. 

The rest of the hall is quite beautiful in its own right, with attractive stone work, murals along the walls, busts and carvings of famous composers, and lovely gilding.  It looks like something out of a storybook.  And that's without hearing the lovely music that normally comes from that stage.

Near the end of the tour, we came down this staircase, and as we descended, I noticed its interesting shape.  When I looked up, I was struck by the coolness of the view. 

We finished our tour back in Lowry Hall, which is original to the school and stunning in its own right, with the gorgeous ceiling and detailed wooden ticket booths still intact further up on the right.

As I drove home, I marveled at the beauty I'd just seen.  In fact, I felt practically euphoric.  I was looking for unexpected beauty in everything during my drive.  It caught me off-guard a little bit, and I found myself wondering why seeing something like that had that kind of impact on me.  In the end I decided that it's just a smaller version of what I'm desperately craving--the chance to go out and explore the world.  Lately I've been desperately wishing to go away with Craig and spend time alone with him.  It's hard to do it with kids, of course, so it's been quite a while since we've had a night away, and ages since we've had more than that.  I just miss having adventures with him where we get to explore new places and do fun things together, without having the constant interruption/distraction of the kids' constant needs.  It's hard to take in the beauty of paradise, for example, when a kid is pulling on your arm and whining for a snack.  We love them, but it's hard to find "us" sometimes in the midst of our time with them.
We live a good life, but it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day stress of life.  Each day has an element of survival, with just trying to maintain enough energy to get through the day and keep the kids alive and well.  It's easy to get in a rut where nothing feels extraordinary.  I think that's why we as parents often try to surprise our kids with a treat.  We like to take them for ice cream, or bring home a special toy, or visit a fun new place, just so we can see that joy and wonder on their face.  We live vicariously through them when it comes to discovering the world with fresh eyes, because everything is new and exciting for them.  And since we don't get a lot of "new" in our own lives as we get older and get busy with daily stresses, we just want to see it through them.  It's cheaper and easier to impress them, after all.
But I think that's why a tiny glimpse into something new, different, and beautiful made me so euphoric.  It was a small taste of the big world that's out there waiting to be explored, and when you're craving it like I've been lately, that small glimpse was apparently intoxicating.  I'd hate to see what would happen if I got to go somewhere truly exciting!  But for one night, it was fun to see something different and be reminded of some of the amazing things this city has to offer.  Add in the dedication and talent of the students that were crawling all over those beautiful spaces, and it was downright inspiring. 
So, yeah, it was a good night.

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