As you may know, I’m working with partners to develop a musical about the 19th Amendment, which gave American women the right to vote. In the course of getting the show, 19, ready for full performances, we have played parts of it in all sorts of spaces, but none of them grander than the Great Hall in the Library of Congress, where we were honored to perform for the women of Congress on June 4.
It was memorable. And daunting. The Great Hall is 100% marble. If you are playing a piece for solo flute for a very quiet audience, maybe that space works acoustically. But for an audience of fired-up Congresswomen, led by the redoubtable Nancy Pelosi, I was worried our choral vocal numbers would turn into sonic soup.
Luckily, the sound crew at the LoC has a lot of experience with the logistics of this space. So even though my piano was literally 200 feet from Katie Ganem, who stars as suffragist Alice Paul, it worked! Her voice came floating over the audience, and they could hear every word. The effect was magical and could not have happened in that way in any other building. We’re planning the first full performances of the show this November, with more slated for 2020, the centennial of the Amendment’s ratification.