But it was true - and is true! In December 2001, details began to fall into place for the Boston Pops' participation in the Super Bowl pre-game show. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, has been a long time supporter of the Boston Symphony. Seiji Ozawa, music director of the Boston Symphony, has been a long time fan of the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots, so when Robert Kraft suggested to the National Football League that having the Boston Pops - "America's Orchestra" - play at the Super Bowl, and the NFL said "YES," fireworks and celebrations in Boston began. And because the New England Patriots, the Boston area's own NFL team, had a season which led to their being one of the two teams at the Super Bowl, it made it all the more sweet that we were there. When the Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams in the game, 20-17, I was witness to one of the most dramatic moments in sporting history.
In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, and for a few days afterward (from January 27 to February 5, 2002), I updated this page daily with news of the Pops' preparations for the pre-game show and a bit of how we in Boston felt about all of this. I hope I've given readers some insight to an exciting week in the life of a full time, symphony orchestra player and how remarkable opportunities like this turn everything upside down - but are, at the same time, truly special and a lot of fun.
I hope you enjoy The New England Patriots and the Boston Pops - A Super Bowl Diary.
This season, Pat and I have watched every game the Patriots have played and Pat and I went to one game at Foxboro stadium this year - against the San Diego Chargers - when the BSO brass section played the National Anthem. (The photo at left shows Pat at the Patriots/Chargers game on October 14, 2001 which the Patriots won 29-26 in overtime - it was a dreary day with some rain but Patriots fans had a lot to feel warm about!).
Since joining the Boston Symphony, I've enjoyed playing at New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics games as well as at the 1999 Ryder Cup Golf Tournament. Pictured below is Boston Symphony Orchestra Music Director Seiji Ozawa with me at a Patriot's game a few years ago at Foxboro Stadium. Ozawa is an avid Boston sports fan, and his friendship with Patriots owner Robert Kraft has led to our being able to be at many Patriots games. Kraft is a very generous man who loves the Boston Symphony, and when we have played at Patriots games, we have been given tickets for ourselves and a guest, free transportation and food in the Patriots' "Kickoff Club." What a thrill.
Pat and I both sing in our church choir, so we were out the door by 8:00 AM for choir rehearsal and church, and we returned home at 12:20 PM in time to turn on the television and settle down for the game. What a thrill it was to see the Patriots, who were heavy underdogs, beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game had everything in it - Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was knocked out of the game in the second quarter and Drew Bledsoe, the Patriots backup (and former starting) quarterback who himself was knocked out of the entire season in the second game they played came in and scored a touchdown on his first series. A touchdown on both a punt return and a blocked field goal sealed the game and the final score was 24-17 - and the New England Patriots were on the way to the Super Bowl!
Pat and I watched the end of the St. Louis Rams vs. Philadelphia Eagles game and when the Rams won, we knew who the Patriots would be facing in the Super Bowl.
More tomorrow; there's a lot more sports coverage to watch, and we Patriots fans are looking forward to our first trip to the Super Bowl since 1996. This is going to be a great week. Tomorrow I'll tell you what preparations have already been made for the Pops to go to New Orleans and what our week is going to shape up to look like. Stay tuned...
You have to remember that Boston has had a pretty long dry spell when it comes to sports teams winning championships.
The "Curse of Babe Ruth" has meant that ever since the Boston Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in the early 1900's, the Red Sox have not won a World Series. The great run of Boston Celtics championships came to an end in the mid 1980's (although they are playing fairly well at the moment) and the Patriots, despite two trips to the big game in 1986 and 1996, have never won the Super Bowl. So, perhaps it's our turn...
Pat and I worked out for awhile after the game (we excercise regularly on our Nordic Trak and Nordic Fit machines) which helped calm us down a bit, and then we both practiced - Pat the baritone horn (she plays in the New England Brass Band which I conduct) and I the bass trombone and serpent. I'm preparing for a recording session in April which will feature my playing the serpent so it's time to get serious about preparing for that.
I couldn't resist putting on my Patriots jacket while warming up last night and Pat snapped this photo of a very happy fan.
We have a custom of listening to a Bach Cantata each Sunday, so before heading to bed (where we watched the news and took in highlights of the game once more) we listened to Cantata BWV 140, "Wachet auf." While we usually listen to the Cantata which was written for this particular Sunday in the church year, we sang "Sleepers Awake" in church this morning and we decided to listen to it today because we wanted to get the context of the hymn and also because "Wachet auf" was written for the Sunday which least frequently falls in a year, the 27th Sunday after Trinity. We hadn't listened to it in our cycle so it was nice to hear it last night.
Waking up this morning to my clock radio was sweet, the news on the hour was all Patriots. After reading all about the game in the Boston Globe, I turned my attention to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to get the read of how Steelers fans were feeling today. It wasn't pretty, but we know their pain. We really do.
As we prepare to head to New Orleans, I should bring you up to date on what has happened already in terms of our musical preparations.
It will come as a surprise to most people that when the Boston Pops plays at the game, you won't actually be hearing us play live. That's because to play live music with a symphony orchestra inside a domed stadium with deafening crowd noise is virtually impossible. The reverb and echo usually results in a disasterous ensemble and a poor result. Because of this, all of the music you'll hear us play at the Super Bowl in the pre-game show has been pre-recorded by us. On December 29 and 30, 2001, the Boston Pops, with conductor Keith Lockhart, had two recording sessions at Symphony Hall in Boston. Ricky Minor, who is the executive producer and music director of the Super Bowl, was on hand to oversee the recording which was engineered by Shawn Murphy who has produced many of the Boston Pops CDs as well as the movie soundtracks for "Saving Private Ryan" and "Schindler's List," both of which were played by the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Because we had to record the music so far ahead of the actual game, we recorded a lot of music, some of which might not be used in New Orleans. It was necessary for us to record music for every possible eventuality. In addition to vocal soloists (Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige and Marc Anthony have been announced although others may perform as well) we will also be accompanying four living former US Presidents (Ford, Carter, George H. Bush and Clinton) while they narrate Copland's "A Lincoln Portrait." The pre-game show will have a patriotic flavor to it, and the music we recorded reflects that, with some of our national songs as well as classic "American" music.
Here's what we recorded:
The singers and narrators laid down their tracks after our music tracks were post-produced. At the game on Sunday, we will be playing, but what you will hear on TV will be the pre-recorded material. There are other practical reasons for this as well beyond having the performance have good ensemble: Super Bowl pre-game and half-time shows sometimes become a "hit" and a CD and/or video is released after the fact. The amount of crowd noise during the performance would make it impossible to record a quality audio track if we were playing live. By using the pre-recorded tracks, everyone is ensured that they will hear things with good sound and ensemble.
But all of this does feel a little strange. I remember, many years ago, reading a New York Times article about a Liza Minelli show on Broadway; the article was called, "I've Got That Synching Feeling." At that time, lip-synching shows and concerts was just not done, and Minelli was the first to, well shall we say, get caught doing it. And therein is the rub - if a performance is being billed as being live but it's really synched, that may be crossing a line of not being entirely honest. But in the case of the Super Bowl, it's no secret what's being done (the Boston Globe ran a long article on our recording sessions on January 1, 2002) and all of the performers who made the recording will actually be at the live event - performing.
Well, most of the performers... There is one group of performers that were at the recording session who will not be going to New Orleans. Several of the pieces we recorded have choral parts, and the BSO's resident chorus, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, sang at the first recording session. But they won't be coming to New Orleans - from what I have heard, there will be a group of firefighters and police officers who will be singing with us at the Super Bowl. No word on whether they have pre-recorded a vocal track to go along with what the TFC has already laid down at the session, but I think it's important to acknowledge our all-volunteer Tanglewood Festival Chorus (and their conductor, John Oliver) who are truly "unseen" but will very much be heard at the game. They won't be there with us, but these hard working men and women will certainly be with us in spirit!
Those who produce and do these kinds of things regularly know what they're doing with all these techno-details, so I'm going to be a good soldier and do what I'm told and not think too much about how it's going to happen.
This afternoon I'll be off to some sporting goods stores in the area to see if I can get a Patriots AFC Champions t-shirt and hat. I'll be wearing my t-shirt under my tuxedo at the game on Sunday!
Tomorrow I'll tell you a bit about how the Super Bowl trip is being shoe-horned into this week's already busy Boston Symphony schedule. The things we will do for our team...!
On the musical front, things are relatively quiet. Sunday and Monday are usually days off for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and this week is no exception. Last night I had a rehearsal with the New England Brass Band, an ensemble I conduct in the Boston area. We are preparing for a concert on February 10 which will be held at my church, Westgate Church in Weston, Massachusetts. The band members are as excited as I am about the game on Sunday and they were heartened when I told them that every time the BSO or Boston Pops brass section has played the National Anthem at a New England Patriots football game (and I have played at four games), the Patriots have won. Every time. Now, I don't believe in luck - I believe that things happen as a result of talent, hard work and destiny - but it is an interesting coincidence that when we are there, they win. We can hope that will be the case on Sunday as well!
I mentioned yesterday that I would talk about how going to the Super Bowl fits into an otherwise already busy schedule for the Boston Symphony. You may know that the Boston Pops Orchestra is the Boston Symphony Orchestra, minus the first chair players on each instrument from the BSO who go to make up another ensemble, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players. Playing Pops is also optional for BSO players - if you don't want to play the spring or Christmas Pops seasons, you don't have to (but you don't get paid). Any resulting vacancies are filled with local Boston free lance players, many of whom play in the Boston Ballet and other fine groups in town.
The Boston Symphony has a full week of concerts this week, with a rehearsal today (Tuesday), two rehearsals on Wednesday, a rehearsal and concert on Thursday, a concert on Friday and a concert on Saturday night. The program, conducted by one of our assistant conductors, Ilan Volkov, is what is called a "chamber week" program - that is one-half of the orchestra is on vacation this week and the other half plays the concert. Hence, the programming is of works for smaller orchestra. It includes Robert Schumann's "Genoveva" Overture (which I have never played before), the Bruch "Violin Concerto" with soloist Ida Haendel, the North American premiere of Ligeti's "Hamburg Concerto" for horn with our principal horn player, James Sommerville as soloist, and the Haydn "Symphony 42." There is also a Boston Symphony Chamber Players concert on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 PM.
When the plans for the Boston Pops to play at the Super Bowl began to be discussed, it was clear that any Super Bowl plans had to fit into the existing Boston Symphony schedule. You don't just cancel BSO concerts in order to do something else! Fortunately, the fact that this week is a chamber week made some fancy juggling possible. Because the music for the Super Bowl was pre-recorded, the main need for a rehearsal in New Orleans is for camera blocking. Because of the busy schedule at the Super Dome in New Orleans, the rehearsal for the pre-game show had to be scheduled for this Thursday. So... the half of the orchestra which is on vacation this week is going down to New Orleans on Wednesday for the rehearsal and the rest of us will follow after the Saturday night Boston Symphony Concert, arriving early Sunday morning. Crazy? Yes! But it is a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience, and those who are going are certainly excited about it despite the wild schedule. Because playing at the Super Bowl is optional for Boston Pops players, not all of our regular players are going on the trip, but the majority of the players are regular BSO players.
There is an interesting aside about the trombone section for the show. The Boston Symphony trombone section consists of Ronald Barron, principal, Norman Bolter, second, and me on bass. When we play Pops, Ron moves over to the Boston Symphony Chamber Players and Norman moves up to play principal trombone, necessitating the hiring of a second player for Pops. Over the years we have had a variety of players play second trombone, among them John Huling (who now plays assistant principal in the National Symphony in Washington, D.C.), Douglas Wright (who now plays principal in the Minnesota Orchestra) and James Nova (who now plays second in the Utah Symphony). Darren Acosta is our regular second player these days for most Pops events, but because this particular Pops concert is what our contract calls "Supplementary Optional Employment" (SOE), it is work which is offered to all BSO players first and then, if not enough BSO players sign up, it is offered to extra players. In the case of Pops concerts which are SOE, even BSO principals can sign up to play, but they cannot play principal if the "regular" Pops principal has signed up to play. Hence, you can find the unusual sight of a BSO principal playing last chair in the Pops orchestra! Ron Barron, who like me is a enthusiastic Patriots fan, was not scheduled to play in the Chamber Players concert on Sunday so he signed up to play the Super Bowl event. Because Norman Bolter also signed up for the Super Bowl, our section for this concert will be Norman on principal, Ron on second and me on bass. Because our tubist, Chester Schmitz, retired last September, we have a vacancy on the position (the final auditions will be held on April 1 of this year), so Randy Montgomery, a fine Boston based tuba player, will be filling out our section.
Because I only play the Schumann overture on this week's programs, I have been excused from two rehearsals this week which is a wonderful bonus. I plan to spend the day doing a lot of practicing and making decisions on repertoire and what instrument/mouthpiece to play on my upcoming recording of music for the serpent. I'm also working on an arrangement for brass band of Norman Bolter's "Unity Fanfare" which Norman wrote for brass ensemble in response to the events of September 11, 2001. I hope to finish and print out those parts today as well.
The week's activities begin to heat up tomorrow, so there is much more to tell...
Things began to get interesting yesterday when I received an email message from a member of the Boston Symphony's resident chorus, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, saying he had heard about my Super Bowl diary in the Tuesday Boston Globe newspaper. What?! It's one thing to post something on your website - even a site which gets many visits a day - but when your site gets mentioned in a major daily newspaper, well, look out!
The Globe ran an item about the Pops going to the Super Bowl and my diary in the "Names and Faces" column on Page E3. It read:
Boston Symphony trombonist Douglas Yeo reports an interesting phenomenon: The Boston Symphony or Boston Pops brass section has played the national anthem at a Patriots game five times, most recently Oct. 14, in a game against the San Diego Chargers, and each time the Patriots have won. "I think [Patriots owner] Bob Kraft should make sure we all get season tickets," said Yeo, who will travel with the Pops to New Orleans to perform in the pregame show. He is keeping a Super Bowl diary at www.yeodoug.com.So, the word is out! And since the Globe article appeared yesterday, hits to my website have jumped dramatically. Thanks, Boston Globe! And thanks to all of you who are cheering along with me for the New England Patriots. Patriots!
I had a look again at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette again yesterday; wow, the Steelers fans are still taking their loss to the Patriots pretty hard. In an article by Deborah Mendenhall titled, " Loser letdown sacks fans' psyches, but mental coaches assure us it will pass," she wrote:
If you're still feeling a little sad, mad, or deflated today because the Steelers lost a game they were supposed to have won, there's a reason."Loser letdown?" Wow, at least there's a diagnosis! Pretty heavy stuff. Yes, sports are important, but it is a game, and while it's a big part of life for many of us, it's important to keep a healthy perspective.
It's called loser letdown and it can be devastating to fans who closely identify with the team they support, said Daniel L. Wann, associate professor of psychology at Murray State University in Kentucky.
"The team can literally become an extension of who the fan is," said Wann, who studies the behavior of sports fans. "When the Steelers lose, they lose. This can be fairly intense and affect a fan's self-esteem.
"It will pass, but it doesn't mean it is any less depressing to them right now. The intensity of the sadness can be fairly great."
You know, I have to say how pleased I and many other fans are that this year's Patriots team is being recognized for something very special (not only their great "special teams"): they are truly a TEAM. The Patriots are embodying the important principle that when everyone on a team works together to do their job - whether or not it is a "high profile" position - amazing things can happen. The Patriots have very few so-called "star" players. But they have a lot of players who work day to day to do their part. And in football, as in playing in a symphony orchestra, there is something important to be said about working together as a team. I've written about this on my website in my article about orchestral brass players called Me, Myself and I. Check it out if you have a chance - it's a challenge to all of us, whatever we do, to work hard at our job and be content to play our part.
I spent a lot of time yesterday working on the serpent; as I mentioned yesterday I'm going to have a recording session in April, the first of three, for my new CD recording of serpent playing. I played through a lot of music in order to narrow down the repertoire I will record, and experimented with my several serpents to choose the right instrument and mouthpiece for each piece. As you can see from this photo, I also got out my contrabass "anaconda" serpent (whose name is "George" as he first made music on St. George's day, April 23, 1990) for some practice time. George, by the way, is wearing my Patriots AFC Champions hat - he's a BIG fan. And, in case you're interested in knowing more about the serpent, visit my website article Tempted By A Serpent which will also give you links to other articles and photos on my website devoted to this most unusual instrument.
I was practicing in my home office yesterday, and in this photo you can see my desk with my Macintosh G3 computer where this diary (and my whole website) comes to life. Also, you can see a neat little stand (closeup at right) that my friend Kevin Saunders manufactures and sells which is holding four of my serpent mouthpieces - if you're a serpent or trombone player who needs a classy place to hold your mouthpieces, Kevin's beautifully machined, oiled cherry stand is just the thing for you.
It dawned rainy today in Boston, but that hasn't dampened Patriots fever - with media day in New Orleans occurring yesterday, there was no end to the articles I could read before heading to work. Soon it was off to Symphony Hall for a Boston Symphony rehearsal. Since it's a chamber orchestra week, fewer of my colleagues are in the building, but the "buzz" about the Super Bowl is making up for that. A number of colleagues talked to me about the mention of my Super Bowl diary in the Boston Globe, and it's great to see people talking up the Patriots so much. BSO trombonists Ronald Barron, Norman Bolter and I rehearsed Schumann's "Genoveva" Overture, something we had never played before. For this kind of repertoire, we often scale down the equipment we play a bit: Ron often plays his Yamaha alto trombone and I play a small bore German style instrument (for the trombone players reading this, I use a Yamaha model 601 which is a single valve German style bass trombone with a dual bore .525/.547). Norman often uses his Conn 6H when we do this, but since he has an important concerto performance with the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra on February 17 (he will be performing the world premiere of his composition, IOURS for trombone and chamber orchestra), he's staying with his usual equipment this week.
Robert Schumann's Overture to his opera "Genoveva" is entirely new to me; I confess I never knew Schumann even wrote an opera. While his music counts among some of my favorites to hear and to play, this overture has very little for the trombones to do. After the slow introduction, it breaks into an allegro reminiscent of the finale of his "Rhenish" Symphony, and apart from a single note about half way through the piece, the trombones are reserved for the coda. In all, I counted 345 measures of rest and a grand total of 30 notes to play. Ahh, the life of the trombonist! Feast or famine, it is.
I've commented many times that I have the best seat in the house, sitting in the back row of the orchestra. Above is a shot I took at rehearsal today, showing my view of the conductor (Ilan Volkov). Those with good eyes will notice that on the left hand page of my music folder is a postcard showing Gromit of the "Wallace and Gromit" short film series. These are favorites of mine, and keeping a card with Gromit's perplexed face is a reminder to stay alert, especially when things don't seem just right.
The other great view I have is of the orchestra down the row to my right. Here, on the left, is what I see from my chair - from closest to furthest away you can see Norman Bolter and Ronald Barron, trombones, and Thomas Rolfs and Peter Chapman, trumpets. Timothy Genis is playing timpani. This was obviously snapped during one of our 345 bars of rest!
The photo below shows our section today in the basement of Symphony Hall where we usually warm up before rehearsals and concerts; from left to right, in the order you'll see us playing at the Super Bowl, are Norman Bolter, Ronald Barron and me. But you won't see us with these trombones in New Orleans - actually, the instruments we'll be using at the game were shipped down last Sunday so they could go through the massive security at the Super Dome and they have been locked up until the first rehearsal on Thursday.
Tuba player Randy Montgomery is heading to New Orleans today along with those Pops players who are not playing with the BSO this week. Once they have their rehearsal on Thursday, they're free until Sunday - not a bad deal for them!
Once home, Pat and I headed out to our local mall after lunch to see what new Patriots/Super Bowl offerings were to be had in a sporting goods store. We were able to find a store which had official Super Bowl t-shirts - only a few left, so I got one and we got two to send to our daughters. We had the three shirts in our hands and by the time we got to the checkout counter, the remaining five shirts were gone. The clerk said they got in 100 hats yesterday and they sold out in 20 minutes. Any doubt that we're excited here in New England!! I've got to start making up a list of things to bring home from New Orleans for various family members. Tomorrow is a very full day which begins with a rehearsal, continues with my weekly teaching at New England Conservatory of Music, and ending with a BSO concert. This year, I have three students at NEC - one is from New England, one from the Philadelphia area, and one is from Pittsburgh. Uh-oh!
More on that after our lessons tomorrow - there's a bit of a story to tell there!
Because of the tight Boston Symphony schedule this week, travel plans for the players to get to the Super Bowl have no wiggle room. The unspoken fear has been that the famous (or infamous) New England weather might get in the way.
It's snowing today in Boston.
Snow. Winter wonderland. We love it when we sing the Christmas-time songs, but the reality for us in New England is that snow can be a paralyzing force. While we like to think we can handle anything, snow, and its uglier cousin, ice, can wreak havoc in plans. Weather forecasters can only tell you so much, so when the white stuff starts floating down, New Englanders pay attention. Here is a view out of the window of my studio at New England Conservatory this afternoon, overlooking rooftops through a driving snow.
Today is the rehearsal in New Orleans for the pre-game show - as I've mentioned before, half of the Pops orchestra travelled to New Orleans yesterday and the rest of us will travel down late Saturday night into Sunday morning after the Saturday night Boston Symphony concert here in Boston. Thankfully, our colleagues who went down to New Orleans yesterday got there safely and before the snow started here. Today's snow event is predicted to be a nasty one - it started as snow and as temperatures slowly have risen all day, it has turned to freezing rain and ice. Tomorrow should have a tricky morning commute as well with the icy conditions turning to all rain. And Saturday and Sunday should be clear. Say a prayer about the weather - this is a a little too close for comfort!
A friend emailed me this morning to say he'd heard something on a morning television show in New York which implied Kathy Lee Gifford would be singing the National Anthem at the game. What?! I asked several of the BSO managers this morning and all said they had not heard anything of the kind - later in the day the confusion was solved - apparently Gifford will sing the National Anthem on some Super Bowl related program on Saturday night. Mariah Carey WILL be singing the National Anthem at the pre-game show on Sunday with the Boston Pops accompanying her. I guess you can't have the National Anthem sung too many times!
There are Patriots fans all over Symphony Hall. Shawn, who runs the mail room, was wearing his Patriots sweatshirt today. Members of the house crew are wearing Patriots AFC Champions shirts and sweatshirts. But there is one member of the BSO staff who rivals me and all others as the TRUE Patriots fan - Helen Brady.
Helen is the BSO's Director of Group Sales and Tourism and she and her husband have been Patriots season ticket holders for many years. I stopped by her office this morning and found her at her desk, surrounded with reminders of the Patriots. A Patriots calendar hung on one wall; an autographed photo of Drew Bledsoe on another. Helen had a sign she had made up the other day - she had been at the Patriots-Oakland Raiders game - so I snapped this photo of her (at left) at her desk. Helen's going to the Super Bowl, not part of the official BSO contingent, but because she was a winner in the lottery the Patriots had for their season ticket holders to get tickets to the game.
Another great piece of news fell in our lap today: Patriots owner Robert Kraft apparently called the BSO yesterday asking if the BSO brass players would be able to play at a post-Super Bowl party the Patriots will be hosting. When I was asked if I could do this, I said, "You've got to be kidding!!!! OF COURSE I can do it!!!" Plans are fluid and keep changing - for instance, yesterday we were told that no camcorders or cameras with detachable lenses would be allowed at the game. Today we received a memo saying no cameras of ANY kind would be allowed. That's a huge disappointment, but who knows, that may yet change.
The BSO had the final rehearsal for this week's program, and when that was over, I headed over to New England Conservatory for my weekly afternoon of teaching. Over the years I have been blessed to work with many talented students and this year is no exception. The three bass trombone players at NEC this year are hard workers with a lot of talent. Rob just gave his recital and will be graduating in the spring with his Master's degree; Zac is a sophomore and Jordan is a freshman.
Things got a little interesting during lessons in the last few weeks. Rob is from Connecticut and is a Patriots fan - good choice! Jordan is from Philadelphia and was, of course, following the progress of the Philadelphia Eagles. Because the Eagles are in the National Football Conference, they would not play the Patriots in the playoffs. We had a friendly banter about both teams, and the possibility that both teams might meet in the Super Bowl. When the Eagles lost to the St. Louis Rams last Sunday, that possibility disappeared.
Zac, however (shown in the photo, right, which was taken in the basement of Symphony Hall this evening as he headed to work to usher at the BSO concert and I had just returned to the hall from an afternoon of teaching), hails from Pittsburgh and he is a die-hard Steelers fan. I've been wearing my Patriot's jacket this winter and Zac would always have a friendly comment to make when I'd walk into my studio wearing it. Something friendly like, "Steelers are going all the way." At Rob's recital a few weeks ago, Zac, and his high school friend and college roommate, Kai, who is a tenor trombone major at NEC, were sporting Steeler yellow under their black shirts. At our lesson last week, Zac came in wearing a big smile and a Steeler's jersey. The showdown was set between Pittsburgh and New England, and Zac was pumped, convinced that the "terrible towels" would do their damage and send the Patriots packing.
As we know, it didn't happen that way and the Steelers lost. I hadn't talked with Zac since the Steeler-Patriots game on Sunday. I couldn't resist wearing my new Super Bowl t-shirt to our lesson today since Zac had talked so confidently about a Steeler win. I'm happy to report that Zac doesn't have any signs of the dreaded Steeler "loser letdown" and that he's got the whole thing in perspective. But, as you can see, his terrible towel doesn't look very terrible now and my new Super Bowl t-shirt has only two team helmets on it, and one of them isn't the Steelers.
It's all in good fun - my students and I have good relationships and it's nice to have things like sports to talk about to relieve some of the intensity of a daily life in music. It's also true that there are many things about sports and music which find resonance, such as hard work and teamwork.
This snow is supposed to continue today into tomorrow and it is already changing over to ice which will make the evening drive home tonight and the morning commute a little interesting. Snow I can deal with, but ice is another story - it gets a LOT of respect from me. Tomorrow morning I will be hearing entrance auditions for bass trombone and tuba players at New England Conservatory, followed by a BSO rehearsal, teaching and a BSO concert. Another full day that has to be worked through on the way to Sunday!
When I went to bed last night, it was still snowing, and by this morning, we had several inches of snow which had accumulated. Newly fallen snow is a beautiful thing, as you can see in this view out our kitchen window to the woods behind our house. But temperatures had been slowly rising all night so instead of pushing away a few inches of light powdery snow, I had the joy of a half hour of grunt work lifting heavy, wet snow with plenty of water at the bottom.
The Patriots are still the center of media attention in Boston and today's Boston Globe had no fewer than 15 articles about the Super Bowl. I quickly skimmed what I could in the little bit of time I had this morning before driving downtown to hear auditions at New England Conservatory. But this morning's commute was one of those things which anyone in Boston can relate to: it took forever.
Bostonians know of the "River Roads" which go along the Charles River in Cambridge and Boston - Memorial Drive is on the north (Cambridge side) and accepts cars and trucks - and has many traffic lights. Soldier's Field Road (which becomes Storrow Drive) is on the south (Boston) side of the river and is for passenger cars only and has no traffic lights for its entire length. The reason trucks are not allowed on Soldier's Field Road/Storrow Drive is because of several low overpasses which you must pass under - the lowest is only 10 feet high. Trucks are strictly prohibited but, naturally, now and then you get a truck driver who either can't (or won't) read a sign or feels that the rules are for someone else. This morning, a truck managed to get stuck under an overpass near the Boston University Bridge - the top of his truck peeled back like a can of sardines - and the morning commute along Soldier's Field Road/Storrow Drive was more like a morning in a parking lot.
Once getting through that mess, it was on to New England Conservatory to hear tuba and bass trombone auditions. Always an interesting and revealing process, NEC Brass and Percussion Chairman Frank Epstein, tuba faculty member Charles Vilarrubia and I listened to a dozen players on the first day of NEC auditions. A productive morning, followed by a BSO rehearsal for a children's concert which will take place tomorrow afternoon.
In a sense, today is a day of waiting - there's nothing new happening with the Pops relating to the Super Bowl. Tomorrow we leave, today we wait. We heard the rehearsal in New Orleans yesterday went well; conductor Keith Lockhart was on a number of news reports last night and this morning, Mariah Carey was photographed with a football, and when our Managing Director Mark Volpe was interviewed by an ESPN reporter trying to draw him into the so called "quarterback controversy" by being asked whether he thought Tom Brady or Drew Bledsoe should start for the Patriots, he said, "I like Steve Grogan." That was probably the ONE answer the reporter had never heard. It's silly season, too.
Full days like today (as I write this, I am finishing eating dinner at Symphony Hall, awaiting the evening concert) can seem to go on forever. My mind is very much on the game on Sunday, wanting to get to New Orleans and be a part of things. People on the street are talking, colleagues are making predictions, and students at the Conservatory are decked out in red, white and blue - the Patriots' colors.
But what more can be said? The teams have been analyzed every which way but loose. We Patriots fans have enjoyed a great season - a season nobody really would have imagined was possible. Look at the Patriots by the numbers and you scratch your head and wonder how they could be in the final game of the season. But football isn't all about the numbers - it's about how a team works together, about their heart. I think that's why the season has seemed so exciting to so many fans, including me: the Patriots have defied expectations by simply playing from down to down, game to game, in a way which would bring out the very best of the 11 people on the field at any given time. Some games have been won by the offense, some by the defense, others by the special teams. Put it all together and you have something that should give those who give the Rams the game with long odds against the Patriots a bit of pause. Don't forget there were many parties in Oakland and Pittsburgh which were cancelled by people whose jaws dropped low as the Patriots managed to pull off another upset win.
Like football players, symphony musicians have locker rooms, too. As I got dressed for the concert last night, Ron Barron snapped this photo of me in front of my locker. I had worn my Super Bowl XXXVI t-shirt for Zac's benefit (see the entry for Thursday, January 31 for more on my student Zac, the Pittsburgh Steelers fan) and you can see it hanging up. The door of my locker is decorated with photos of my wife and daughters and I decided to add another piece of Patriots paraphernalia to my wardrobe: a small Patriots pin which my daughter Robin had bought at a game she went to with me a few years ago (see the closeup at right). Even when I'm playing the team and the game are on my mind!
Tomorrow can't come soon enough. For tomorrow night, after the BSO concert, we will board our charter jet and fly to New Orleans. We leave around midnight and will arrive in New Orleans early in the morning on Sunday when we get to the hotel. But waking up in New Orleans will be sweet - we'll be there, and all the waiting will be over. I have no idea when I'll be able to post my Saturday diary entry, so I appreciate your patience. One more day and it's off to the "Big Easy." Jambalaya!
If you remember how it was when you were young and were waiting for Christmas Day to come, you know how I feel today. Today's the day! It has finally come!
Those who don't live in the USA may not understand how "big" the Super Bowl is here in the USA. It's not just about the football game, but of course that is the focal point of the day. It's also about money - lots of money - and the commercials which run on television during the game are sometimes more interesting than the game itself. Last night, Pat and I watched a television show on Super Bowl commercials, and we got to see some great, classic commercials which brought back a lot of memories. The Coke ad with "Mean Joe Green," Apple Computer's dramatic "1984" commercial which launched its Macintosh Computer, and the ubiquitous "Wassssaaaaaaap!" beer commercials provided a very entertaining hour for us. 30 second commercials during the Super Bowl cost more than $1,900,000 and advertising agencies spent huge amounts of time trying to create a memorable ad which hopefully will become a "classic."
As I've mentioned before, security at the Super Bowl will be extremely tight. The United States Secret Service, which is the agency assigned to protect the President of the United States, is coordinating all security. This is not only in response to the events of September 11, 2001 which has caused security at public events to be significantly heightened. It's also because during the pre-game show, former President George H. Bush will participate in the coin toss. Keeping everyone safe is a top priority for the security detail. While this is creating inevitable delays and hassles, it's understandable in the current climate.
All 72,000+ fans who will attend the game at the New Orleans Super Dome will enter the stadium through a single entrance - all bags will be checked, everyone will have to go through a metal detector. Because we are participants in the game and will have a high security clearance (all orchestra members had to go through Secret Service background checks since we will be on the field in the pre-game show, near the Presidents and other celebrities), we will enter the stadium through a separate entrance which will have even higher security. Hence, we are not allowed to bring anything - no cameras for instance - with us. This is a disappointment to me since I won't be able to get any photos in the backstage area or on the field, but I'm hopeful I can purchase a camera at a concession area once the game begins and I can snap some photos during the game. But security is important, and there are no exceptions - everyone has to play by the rules.
Today's Boston Globe had 18 articles about the Super Bowl and I read each one of them. One of the most interesting was by Joanna Weiss, who wrote about how the pre- and half-time show planning changed after September 11. The shows now are patriotic spectaculars. What I found particularly interesting were the comments made by various of the performers for the game. Her article concluded:
Except for [Boston Pops Conductor Keith] Lockhart, who was well versed in the virtues of the Patriots' special teams, few of the stars professed to know much about football. "The last thing I learned were the two teams playing," [Mariah] Carey said.Performers for the pre-game show will include the four former US Presidents I have mentioned who will be narrating "A Lincoln Portrait" (Presidents Ford, Carter, George H. Bush and Clinton), Barry Manilow, Mary Blige, Marc Anthony, Mariah Carey, Paul McCartney and others. The half-time show will have still more performers.
And [Paul] McCartney, the British knight, speaking via satellite from New York, said the only thing he knew about the Super Bowl was that the Patriots had no stars. "I hear that they're the underdogs," he said.
Don't worry, Paul. That's really all you need to know about America.
This would be a good time to remind you of when this is all happening. The Super Bowl is being carried by the Fox Network and can be seen all over the USA beginning at 3:00 PM eastern time. This is the "official" beginning time of the pre-game show according to the network. The information we have received tells us that the Boston Pops segment will begin around 4:00 PM eastern time; at 6:10 PM eastern time we will perform "America the Beautiful," the "Star Spangled Banner" and a fanfare for the coin toss. The game itself begins at approximately 6:30 PM eastern time and should run about 3 hours not including various post game shows which will run on various networks. Check your local listings for exact times and details for your area. Those overseas will have to check with local stations to see when the game will be shown - the worldwide audience is estimated to be over 800,000,000 people. It will have the largest television audience for a sporting event all year long.
The Boston Symphony has two concerts today, a "Family Concert" at 12:00 noon which is a one hour concert designed for young children, and our regular concert tonight at 8:00 PM. Following the concert the orchestra will leave for the airport and fly to New Orleans overnight via a charter flight. I may post another diary entry in the morning on Sunday with some photos of New Orleans and our flight down and I'll get something up, of course, after the game. It's going to be a wild ride, for sure! Thanks for reading and sharing the fun. More to come - and, of course,
This entry is being written on board the Boston Pops' charter flight from Boston to New Orleans. After I finished playing the Schumann overture at a Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall, I drove home to pack up and headed to a local airport (for security reasons, details about the airport and airline will be given after we return home) where the rest of the orchestra arrived by bus from the hall. Only 44 of us are going down on the flight tonight - the others, as mentioned earlier, came down to New Orleans on Wednesday for the rehearsal on Thursday.
WHOOOPS! I just realized that I left the connecting cable for my digital camera back at home so won't be able to upload any new photos until I return home on Monday night. Nuts... Oh, well, you can't remember everything. I know what happened, I decided to leave the case containing my external floopy and Zip drives at home since I would not be needing them, but I forgot that the cord for my digital camera which connects it to my Macintosh iBook notebook computer was in the same case. Well, since I can't take my digital camera to the game (for security reasons) I'll be adding photos I take on the plane and at the hotel once I get home. I'll make a place for the photos here in the text and if you want to see the photos, come back to this page on Monday night or Tuesday after I've had a chance to upload them.
Wait - I just looked up and Ron Barron happened to walk down the aisle on the way to take his seat - here, on the left, is a photo of Ron - ready to go. You'll see that photo on Monday night or Tuesday morning!
Our charter plane is a Boeing 737 - big enough that each of the 44 of us can have a full three seat row to ourselves. This will prove to be nice later in the flight when we want to get a little sleep during the four hour flight to New Orleans.
There was one disappointment this evening although it has a silver lining. We had been asked the other day if the Boston Pops brass players would be willing to play at a post-game party sponsored by the Patriots. Of course! - that would be a great opportunity, and one not to miss. But the plans changed today, and the full brass ensemble has been changed to a dixieland band - one trumpet, trombone, clarinet, tuba, piano and drums. Norman Bolter, who is principal trombone in the Pops, will be in the group. The silver lining is that I didn't have to bring down special clothes for the post-game event, and I'll be more comfortable during the game without keeping up with a sport coat, slacks and nice shirt. And there will be plenty of celebrating - no matter what the outcome of the game - after the Super Bowl is over.
Our players are split between two hotels in New Orleans; the arrangements for us to come to the Super Bowl happened too late for us to get rooms all in one location. Keith Elder, one of the BSO operations managers, just handed out a revised itinerary with updated information. This is getting exciting. It appears that eight of the selections we recorded at the recording session will be played at the game - four of them, which are purely orchestral, will not be heard or seen on television - they will only be played for the audience in the Super Dome at the game. What the TV audience WILL see and hear are our performances of Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man and A Lincoln Portrait as well as America The Beautiful and The Star Spangled Banner. For security reasons I am not allowed to talk about the exact time we will be performing which pieces - that will come in my entry for Sunday night.
The new itinerary indicates that we will have seats at the game which is great news; we knew we would be seated in the stadium, but for a time, we thought we might be off to the side of the field somewhere. Indications now are that we will have seats along with the other fans, so it will be great to get in the middle of things with everyone else.
The flight crew is serving dinner (at midnight?!?) after which I'm going to try and get some sleep, so I'll sign off for now and post this when I get to the hotel early Sunday morning. The one hour time change from eastern to central time will help in getting a little more sleep once we arrive in New Orleans. Look for a big entry tomorrow which will probably come in a couple of installments - one before we leave for the game and another which will come in the evening after we return to the hotel after - we hope - the Patriots win the Super Bowl!
Our plane touched down at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport at 1:57 AM central time which was ahead of schedule. Our bus driver, Rufus, was an artist navigating the bus around sharp turns in parking lots - and he has one classy uniform, too! He'll be with us throughout the weekend. I managed to get about an hour and a half of sleep on the plane and since the Pops' hotels were not far from the airport, I was fast asleep by 3:00 AM and woke up with my alarm at 9:15 for breakfast. As James Brown said, "I FEEL GOOD!" Our departure for the Super Dome will be in the late morning and we will be accompanied by a police escort - police car AND helicopter.
A few more details of the pre-game show came up once we touched down. First, the narration of Copland's A Lincoln Portrait by FIVE living former US Presidents will be part of a video presentation which will accompany our performance of the piece. Those present at the rehearsal on Thursday said the movie, which will be shown in the Dome and on television is quite powerful and moving, and includes a tribute to those lost on September 11. In a touching gesture, those who put the video together managed to find a speech made by former President Reagan in which he quoted one of Lincoln's speeches which is used in A Lincoln Portrait so his voice will be heard as well. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan is also participating on behalf of her husband. Also, Barry Manilow will sing his song, Let Freedom Ring which we recorded, but it will be played when we are not on the field. That means that all of the pieces we recorded back in December will be played (see above, my entry for January 28, for a full list of the repertoire we recorded for the show) - the only thing which is still up in the air is the fanfare for the coin toss. You may recall we recorded two short fanfares, one by Shostakovich, one by Korngold, so it will be interesting to hear which - or perhaps neither - they decide to use.
Our hotel is adequate - not up to the usual standard of a Boston Symphony tour hotel - but since all you need is a place to lay your head for two nights, it is just fine. There was a concession stand set up in the lobby selling all manner of Super Bowl stuff - since I had bought most of the clothing and game gear I wanted while back at home, I limited myself to getting a Super Bowl golf shirt (no, I don't play golf...), and a couple of programs. Before I knew, $89.00 was flying out of my wallet! But then again, I probably won't do this anytime soon - or ever - so I just handed over my credit card and resolved to keep it in my wallet during the game.
Our hotel has a lot of Patriots fans staying at it - that was evident from all the red, white and blue jerseys and hats seen at breakfast, and the fact that most of the Patriots gear at the lobby concession stand was pretty well picked through. It was nice to chat with some fans from back home during breakfast. Here is a photo (left) of some of my colleagues before we got onto the bus to the game - from left to right, Tom Gauger (percussion), Jon Menkis (horn), me, Ron Barron (trombone) and Lawrence Wolfe (double bass). Super Bowl officials are recommending that fans arrive at the stadium 5 hours ahead of when they want to be seated which makes me very grateful we will be entering through a special entrance. We have been told we will all have to walk through metal detectors and be subject to personal searches - but that's a small price to pay for the peace of mind of knowing everything is being done to keep fans and participants safe.
The Pops' managers have been told repeatedly that cameras will not be allowed to be brought in to the game through our entrance although some people, including me, would like to get some photos of the game. I'll be leaving my digital camera in the hotel room, but I will bring along a small, disposable camera to see if that can get through with permission - if not, it's no great loss if it's confiscated.
It's Sunday, and I don't like missing church, so I'll spend a little time reading my Bible before getting ready ready to go - we will be issued our photo security/access passes once we get on the bus and will also receive final instructions. Being here is indeed a great blessing. There will be a lot to report tonight. Enjoy the show and the game!
They said it could not be done. They said they didn't have a chance. But it happened. The New England Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams in the National Football League's Super Bowl. And the Boston Pops were there!
How do I begin to sum up this remarkable day? For a New England Patriots fan, this was the sweetest of all days. But for a fan who was also part of the game, there really are not words to describe how I feel. So much has happened in the last 12 hours and it is just now sinking in that the Patriots - the team which always believed in itself and which played as a TEAM all year long did what the pundits and "experts" thought was not possible - have won the Super Bowl. And now they are the undisputed world champions of the National Football League.
The Boston Pops had a police escort this morning to the Super Dome in New Orleans - three officers on motorcycles provided those of us on the bus with a great 20 minutes of entertainment as they cleared traffic out of the way so we could head to the Super Dome unimpeded. Many spectators along the side of the road and other drivers as well must have wondered what was happening, and perhaps thought we were one of the teams which would be playing in the game - we got many "thumbs up" from people who saw us zipping down Highway 10 to the Dome.
Once there, we went through several security checks including a personal check (pat down), search of all items we carried in and going through a metal detector. My disposable camera went through all right, and as it turned out, many players were able to bring cameras. While I didn't want to risk bringing my digital camera to the game, I'll be getting the disposable camera developed tomorrow and will get some of those images up on these pages as quickly as possible. And other friends at the game took photos which they promise to give to me. So, while I will conclude this diary on Tuesday, February 5, 2002, I will continue adding photos to it for a few days until I have everything I want on this page.
The orchestra had the New Orleans Saints' locker room as our dressing room; our instrument trunks were under the bleachers by our entrance to the field. A box lunch was provided for us (you can see me here in front of the locker eating my lunch, with my beverage of choice, Diet Coke, in hand), and the NFL gave us all Super Bowl hats and conductor Keith Lockhart gave each player a Patriots t-shirt. Best of all, we got word that Patriots owner Robert Kraft had personally seen to it that every member of the Boston Pops got a seat to the game. What a gift - and what a classy owner who truly loves the BSO and the Boston Pops.
Our seats were in the end zone, about halfway up from the field, right on center. My seat was Section 501, Row 4, Seat 02. We could see everything - and had a direct view at a jumbotron screen across the field and the scoreboard was in full view as well. It also happened to be the perfect spot to watch the game end...but more on that later!
The orchestra got together in the Saints locker room for final instructions from conductor Keith Lockhart (shown at right) and Personnel Manager, Bruce Creditor. Things were beginning to move quickly now and excitement was building. No cameras were allowed on the field, no cell phones, no Patriots lapel pins were allowed, either. Instruments in hand, we got ready to head out through the "tunnel" to the field.
At 2:55 PM, we all assembled on the sidelines of the field, ready to begin our first segment of the pregame program. At 3:10 PM, we all walked onto the platform which had been rolled onto the field (the Super Dome has "artificial turf" and about 60 men rolled a huge platform for the orchestra onto and off the field). We played four numbers (which I talked about in an earlier diary entry) for the benefit of those who were in the Dome - that segment was not shown on television. We then had a break, during which I had a walk around the stadium, bought a few things to take back home, and began to feel the excitment of the crowd before the game.
At 4:45, we were back on the field, beginning our televised segment with Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man. I should tell you that even though we were "playing along" with what we had pre-recorded in December, we all did actually play today, and most of us at full strength. It was wild to hear ourselves a little "late" because of the time delay of the sound through huge speakers in the Dome, but conductor Keith Lockhart wore headphones and large monitors on stage kept us together. Then followed Copland's A Lincoln Portrait narrated by five of our living former Presidents (Ford, Carter, George H. Bush and Clinton - President Reagan, who is ill, was represented because pre-game show producers found a speech of his where he had quoted some of the exact words from Copland's work) and former first lady Nancy Reagan. The movie which accompanied the narration was quite powerful and very moving, ending with a view of the wreckage of the World Trade Center site which then slowly rose to the sky. The audience response was overwhelmingly positive, and it felt so great to be a part of the tribute to America and the American spirit.
We followed the Copland pieces with America the Beautiful sung by Mary J. Blige and Marc Anthony and then left the stage for about 20 minutes while Paul McCartney sang his song, "Freedom" - he was greeted with a fabulous ovation. The photo at right of the Boston Pops Orchestra on the field was taken by Chuck Smith - I appreciate Chuck's letting me use this photo since I don't have any photos of the orchestra on the field taken with my own camera. Visit Chuck's website (click on his name) to see more photos of the Patriots at Super Bowl XXXVI - he has some great photos including a larger, higher resolution copy of the photo shown here.
The teams were then introduced, and the St. Louis Rams came on in the traditional way - each of the starting players were introduced to applause from the crowd. But when the New England Patriots were introduced, instead of getting the individual players to be introduced, they were introduced together as a team - simply as "THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS." The ovation from the crowd, which clearly had many more Patriots fans than Rams fans present, was overwhelming. What a classy way to start the game. That's been the Patriots all season long - no stars, just hard work by a dedicated group of men who work as a team.
We then returned to the field to play the National Anthem with Mariah Carey singing - I have to say I thought her rendition, while not my favorite style, was well done. I felt so proud to have been a part of the show and then turned my attention to getting changed and up to my seat.
I had never been to a championship football game and this was just a wonderful experience for me. The New Orleans Super Dome seats over 72,000 people. On each seat was a cushion we could take home which had a pocket full of "goodies" - a clear plastic holder for your ticket (the ticket itself is a beautiful thing, having a changing hologram on it which alternates between the Vince Lombardi Trophy [which is given to the winning team] and an on field image of an American flag at a football halftime show), a "beanie baby" of an animal decked out in Super Bowl gear, a card with the lyrics of Paul McCartney's song, "Freedom," and a personal FM radio with earphones which gave you the choice of listening to six different broadcasts of the game (it also works as a regular FM radio once the game was over). The radio turned out to be a great bonus - the crowd noise was incredibly loud sometimes and the public address system often couldn't be heard. Being able to tune in the radio after key plays - and I kept it tuned to the broadcast done by Gil Santos, the regular voice of the New England Patriots back home - made me feel like I was home with Pat watching the game. I was seated in a row with many colleagues and our cheering section included (pictured here) Tom Rolfs (trumpet) and Ron Barron flanking me.
Our seats were in the end zone which had the Patriots logo on it, a great place to see the whole game. What a view of the field, scoreboards, jumbotron and all the sideline action. Best of all, being in the Patriots' end zone meant that for the second and fourth quarters, the Patriots would be driving directly toward us. When Ty Law intercepted Rams quarterback Kurt Warner for a touchdown (above, left), he was running right at us. Likewise, when Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri kicked the winning field goal with just a few seconds remaining in the game, the ball came right at us (photo at right - showing the view of the kick from our seats - what a moment!). It was truly wonderful to be there in section 501 with other members of the Boston Pops and with a great, supportive contingent of Patriots fans to celebrate with. The photo at left, showing me with Ron Barron and Tom Gauger (percussion) captures our elation in the minute after the Patriots had won. What a feeling! The celebration began immediately; as you can see below, cannons shot confetti all over the field and security personnel (all in yellow jackets) began to make a perimeter around what would be the platform on which the team would assemble to receive the Vince Lombardi Trophy (this was the same platform we had sat on while playing during the pre-game show). Red, white and blue was everywhere.
We screamed ourselves hoarse - it's a good thing I'm typing this rather than reading this aloud! We stayed through the presentation of the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the Patriots and were thrilled to see quarterback Tom Brady named the most valuable player of the game. He accepted that honor on behalf of the team, and, in fact, gave the car, which had been presented to him as the MVP, to the team. Another class act from a great member of a classy team.
Before the game, the Patriots were serious underdogs - most oddsmakers said the Patriots would lose by 14 points. Instead, the Patriots beat the odds and won the game (in fact, at one point in the game, they led by 14 points!). The final score, 20-17, was a shock only to those who didn't understand that the Patriots had more heart, more desire, and more teamwork than any other team in the National Football game. Being underdogs in their last three games of the season - against the Oakland Raiders, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the St. Louis Rams - gave the team just more incentive to pull together to win. The points the Patriots scored today are indicative of how they have played all season - the offense, led by quarterback Tom Brady scored a touchdown, the defense, led by Ty Law's interception, scored a touchdown, and Adam Vinatieri kicked two field goals with the special teams players.
During the game we had the usual stadium food - cool beverages, hot dogs, chips, and, of course, that New Orleans speciality, Jambalaya. It was not a day for celery sticks and salad!
We returned to our hotel after the game both exhausted and exhilarated. We had witnessed the first sports championship to come to Boston since the 1986 Boston Celtics, and the first championship by our New England Patriots. We had played at the game and have minds full of memories and cameras full of photos waiting to be downloaded or developed. And tomorrow, we return to Boston - a city which is absolutely wild with excitement.
I will add more tomorrow (Monday) and Tuesday, and I'll look forward to viewing the video of the pre-game show and the game itself. This will be a moment to enjoy and savor for a long time. I appreciate your sharing in this with me, and hope you'll come back again tomorrow and Tuesday and through the coming days to enjoy the photos I'll be adding to these pages.
It is nearly midnight. Good night. Thank you New England Patriots. Thank you Robert Kraft. And thank YOU, readers!
How do you sleep the night after such an exhilarating day? Not much! But there will be time for sleep - what is wonderful now is to think over, and over, and over, a miscellaney of thoughts and images which are still fresh in my mind.
Early this morning, the concession stand at our hotel was set up with Super Bowl XXXVI Champion shirts and locker room hats - and to see them with the logo of the New England Patriots was a great, great feeling. To put on that hat was a fulfillment of the hopes and dreams of New Englanders for four decades - a long time to wait for a team to win a championship. While there will be more kinds of apparel to choose from back at home in Boston over the coming weeks, to put on a "New England Patriots Super Bowl Champions" t-shirt the day after the game is a thrill. I read USA Today and the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspapers, both of which had extensive sections on the Super Bowl. In the photo on the right, I'm holding up the special Super Bowl section of the Times-Picayune with it's "Stunning" headline and photo of Ty Law taking up the whole page. I'm standing in front of the concession stand at our hotel which, this morning, was doing a very brisk business.
I had breakfast at a small diner near our hotel which boasted a sign out front (at left). While light hearted, it contains a serious message, and there is no denying that the events of September 11, 2001 are still very much on everyone's mind.
Now that the game is over and we are on the way home (I am writing today's entry in three places: at our hotel in New Orleans, on the flight back to Boston and at home), I can tell a few more details about our trip.
In light of the attacks of September 11, security has become an even bigger factor in big events such as the Super Bowl. The Boston Symphony management was very sensitive to this, and realized that giving the players in the Boston Pops peace of mind, knowing that everything was being done to ensure our safety, was important. Subsequently, we had two security agents, both former United States Secret Service Agents, accompanying us on the trip. They were thorough professionals and seeing them with us every step of the way was comforting. We stayed in two hotels, the Best Western at the New Orleans Airport and the Holiday Inn in Metairie, Louisiana. The 13 more senior members of the orchestra, including me, stayed in the Holiday Inn; reports were it was a significant step up from the Best Western but, really, it couldn't have mattered much since all we needed the hotel for was for a pillow.
Airport security is another major consideration these days, and Boston's Logan Airport is famous (or, rather, infamous) for its delays. Since we had to travel via charter flight because we left for New Orleans so late on Saturday night, the BSO decided to have us fly out of and in to Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts. For me this was tremendously convenient - my home is just a few minutes from Hanscom and with plenty of free parking there, I was so happy not to have to deal with the hassles of Boston's Logan Airport. And while the BSO provides free cabs home for all of the players, I jumped into my car and was home before the car's heat could even come up.
As an indication of what happens in an area when a big event like the Super Bowl occurs, I had the bill for my room slipped under my door last night and when I awoke, I could see all of the charges the BSO had to pay (in addition to charges for the phone calls I had to make to check my email and upload my diary) - the room in this little Holiday Inn was $269 + tax per night. - the orchestra was required to pay a four night minimum, even though we stayed there only two nights. I'm sure that next weekend, the rate won't be that high. In fact, the posted "regular" rate for the room I'm staying in is $89.00. But life is all about supply and demand, and when you need a hotel room, you pay what needs to be paid!
An unexpected development came about on the way to the airport from the hotel. When we arrived in New Orleans, a 15 minute bus ride made the trip from airport to hotel. Our regular driver for the last two days, Rufus, didn't make the trip today, so after we had been driving for about 30 minutes, some of us got suspicious that our bus driver didn't know where he was going. We saw planes taking off and found us getting further away from them. Thus began a furious calling on cell phones to get some directions, and as you can see in this photo, horn players Jon Menkis and Richard "Gus" Sebring and trombonist Norman Bolter had some fun pretending to do what they could to help - I think at one time about a half dozen people were actually on their phones trying to figure out what was going on! Part of the confusion evidently came from the fact that our hapless driver didn't know where the entrance to the airport was that would take our bus directly to our aircraft for a tarmac load. Never a dull moment. The promised hour early we would be getting home suddenly evaporated.
I was able to call my wife, Pat, from a cell phone after the game; she had spent the weekend with her parents to watch the game. Our daughters, in the Chicago area, watched the game together and I had email messages from both of them waiting for me last night when I returned to the hotel after the game. Pat was home when I arrived home and there was non-stop rejoicing and talking, sharing our thoughts about the game and all that had happened in this most remarkable New England Patriots season.
Tonight is a rehearsal with the New England Brass Band of which I am music director and in which Pat plays baritone horn. I received several email messages from band members after the game yesterday and it will be great to see everyone again tonight as we share in the joy of the Patriots' championship.
Tomorrow there is a Boston Symphony Orchestra rehearsal for this week's all-Brahms program. The main work is the Brahms Symphony 4 which employs three trombones only in its finale. The conductor had the courtesy to inform the personnel manager that he would not be rehearsing the finale tomorrow morning so Ron Barron, Norman Bolter and I have the morning off. And THAT is when I will catch up on the sleep I missed in New Orleans.
Today's Boston Globe and Boston Herald newspapers screamed the happy news of the Patriots' victory. These papers are keepers. Media around the country is stunned by the Patriots' win yesterday - they seem at a loss for words with columnists eating their words and acknowledging that the Patriots, in pulling off what was perhaps the greatest upset in Super Bowl history, deserve their respect. Ironically, this game which was supposed to be a "blow-out" in favor of the Rams turned out to have the most exciting finish of any Super Bowl game - never before had a game been won on the last play of the game. People who dismissed this year's matchup as "boring" had their heads turned, and those who didn't bother to turn in, assuming the Rams would run away with the game, found they missed a game which will be remembered for years to come.
In the days ahead, there will be more and more analysis of the game, and of our participation in it. What will be remembered most of all is how the Patriots were rarely taken seriously all season long. At the beginning of the season, the odds against the Patriots being in the Super Bowl were 10,000 to 1. But the team had heart and persistence and drive. It was not "luck" which got the Patriots players Super Bowl rings. It was a combination of talent, hard work and destiny - and that's the way it is for any of us who succeed in anything. I'm sure there will be a celebration and parade for the team in Boston - perhaps some of us in the Boston Pops may be a part of it if we can make the BSO schedule work so we can be there. For the loyal Patriots fans, there can be no better way to go into the post-season, savoring the Championship and looking forward to moving into a new stadium - CMGI Field - for which we can all thank Patriots owner, Robert Kraft.
I will wrap up this diary tomorrow with a few final thoughts. And, as I mentioned yesterday, I will continue adding photos to this diary over the next week as all of my film is developed and I receive copies of photos taken by colleagues in the orchestra. While is has been great fun to share all of this with you, it has also taken a great deal of time to write the text each day, take the photos, download them to my computer, resize them in Adobe PhotoShop, and upload everything to my server. But judging from the number of hits this page has been getting this week, and the volume of email I've received, I'm glad that you have seemed to enjoy this insight into an extraordinary week in the life of a Boston Symphony/Boston Pops musician. I assure you, every week is not as exciting and draining as this one, but it has been a fun ride, and worth everything that was needed to make it happen.
It's hard to know what can be said that hasn't been said. The Patriots have won the Super Bowl, the Boston Pops players had a once-in-a-lifetime experience playing in the pre-game show, and the city of Boston is awash in pride and excitement having a Championship team in town. Yesterday's Boston Globe had a special section about the game, the players and the season and I read every article - three times. Those of you who are sports fans know how special it is when a team you enjoy wins the championship. I looked in at the St. Louis Times-Dispatch website today and I also know how the Rams fans feel. We have been there. We know the sense of loss, the empty feeling. But we also know that a new season always comes, and that redemption eventually does come, even if it has to wait many years to come to fruition. It is a game - albeit one with high stakes and a lot of money involved - and that is important to keep in perspective.
For us, a happy part of this is that the Boston Symphony players have preserved their perfect record with the New England Patriots - for the sixth consecutive time, when the BSO/Boston Pops players play the National Anthem for a New England Patriots game, the team has won. 6-0. What a thrill.
Keeping this diary has been a great deal of fun for me. It has enhanced my own enjoyment of the last week's events, and has given me a tangible record of what happened which I will appreciate having in the future. Many of you who have read this have emailed to say you have enjoyed my day to day chronicle of events, and it's been especially nice to hear from Patriots fans who don't live in the Boston area. I hope I gave you a sense of the excitement, drama, confusion and fun we all experience in the last week.
Patriots fans will enjoy this championship for many years to come. Boston Pops players will enjoy it in a special way and we each have a well full of memories which will be savored, explored and appreciated, even from generation to generation. We are able to say, "I was there!" I have been challenged, inspired and thrilled by all of this, and while life will soon return to "normal" (whatever that is), we have experienced something which was very rare and very, very special.
We saw teamwork, we saw tears. We had some good breaks and some heartbreaking moments. We bit our nails and raised our voices in cheer. And we became a part of history. We were witness to one of the most remarkable upsets in the history of modern sport, and because we cheered our team when they were down, we find it all the more wonderful to cheer them now that they are on top. Next year will bring new players, new challenges, new adventures. But there is time enough for next year. Today is today, and we shall enjoy it.
So, thank you, again, readers, for joining me on this odyssey into the worlds of sports and music. Life is full of surprises - you never know what may be around the next corner. Someday, I will have grandchildren, and I look forward to the day when one of them says, to me, "Grandpa, tell me about when you played at the Super Bowl." I know what I'll do when that moment comes - I'll close my eyes, and a smile will come to my face, and I'll take a deep breath and say,
Well, in November, 2001, we members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, who also form the orchestra known as the Boston Pops Orchestra, began to hear rumors that the Boston Pops was going to perform at the pre-game show of SuperBowl XXXVI in New Orleans, Louisana on February 3, 2002...Smile with me. You know how the rest of it will go...
A SUPER BOWL DIARY EPILOGUE. . .
Some time has now passed since February 3, 2002 and the New England Patriots Super Bowl victory. We have savored the moment, purchased the t-shirts, attended the celebrations and parades, and collected every bit of video and print about the game including the Sports Illustrated issue of February 11, 2002 (pictured at left) which shows Patriots defensive end Willie McGinist giving Rams quarterback Kurt Warner a hug, and the box of Wheaties (shown at right) which includes photos of Tom Brady, Lawyer Milloy, Antowain Smith, Troy Brown and Roman Phifer. EBay is doing a brisk business in selling Super Bowl XXXVI and Patriots championship gear and memorabilia. I've been pleased to add special things to my collection of Super Bowl items including pins given to media members who worked the big game (below, left) and a very limited edition pin (200 total) which was given to the players on the Patriots and Rams teams (below, right). The NFL's video/DVD of highlights from the Patriots' season (including highlights from the Super Bowl) has sold 400,000 copies to date, making it the best selling NFL highlights video in history.
Many thousands of people have visited my diary since it first started and I have enjoyed getting to know many Patriots fans who enjoyed reliving a special moment in time with me.
A few days ago, my Boston Symphony horn colleague Richard Sebring (his photo may be found in my diary entry for Monday, February 4, 2002, above) mentioned my diary to his neighbor, Jim Bricker. Jim is a long-time Patriots fan and after reading my diary, he passed on a poem he had written in tribute to the 2001/2002 New England Patriots team. When I read it I smiled because Jim had captured, in the meter of Longfellow's epic poem, "Paul Revere's Ride," some of the excitement, drama and pride all of us have been feeling. With his permission, I am reproducing Jim's poem below, as a fitting conclusion to this moment in time. Read, remember, and enjoy. We have been part of something unforgettable.
Listen dear fans and you shall hear
I said to my wife, "If the Rams advance
It started many a month ago
The final six games of the regular season
The playoffs began versus Oakland at home
So south to New Orleans the Patriots flew
With no time outs, in a two-minute drill,
So remember the joy that true loyalty brings,
Of the Patriots' glorious Super Bowl year,
On the third day of Feb, in Two thousand and two;
Hardly a man who was holding a brew
Can remember a day more full of cheer.
By passing or rushing in the game to-night,
Count on Belichick to halt their dance
With a quarterback skillful in cunning and might, --
Tom if he's healthy, Drew if he's not;
And we at a party will follow the plot,
Ready to cheer and support the home team
Through pizza and pretzels and chocolate ice cream,
While witnessing the American dream."
With a disrespect that would grow and grow
For a team that was said as the season began
To be one of those teams called an "also ran."
The start was disheartening, not full of glee
After just four games, we were one-and-three;
But then something clicked 'tween the coaches and players
That began to silence the many naysayers.
The spirits were strong and the fans were all loyal
As the Patriots entered each new battle royal;
Sure, Bledsoe was hurt, but Brady stood tall
And Drew's fine support was a lesson to all.
Were victories all, and 'twas now within reason
That our Patriots' bold Number One claims
Could be proven at last in post-season games.
With the perfect storm in "Foxboro Dome."
The Raiders were baffled by Defense and Snow,
And an overtime boot by Adam's big toe.
The Steelers were next on Pittsburgh's home ground
Where the Patriots showed that their game was quite sound.
Three points over Oakland, at Pittsburgh 'twas seven
The Patriots seemed to be blessed from heaven.
But even so, the oddsmakers frowned,
The Pats by St. Louis would be easily downed.
With still no respect for their red, white and blue.
You know the rest, how the game did unfold --
Our Team showed their stripes in a manner so bold!
The players were ready, the fans were the tops,
As the music rang out by our own Boston Pops.
The Rams kicked a field goal and could muster no more
While the Pats made two touchdowns to run up the score.
We ran back a fumble for a twenty point lead
But reviewing the play, the refs disagreed,
And the Rams brought it back with two touchdowns post haste
As our mouths parched up with a real bitter taste.
Was it time now to suffer the ancient old curse
Or could Team New England write a new verse?
Our heroes came through, on guts, strength and will.
No playing for overtime, no that wouldn't do,
We'd go for the victory, on Adam's big shoe.
With time running out and no team playing harder,
We launched the victorious forty-eight yarder.
We now have our winners with Super Bowl rings.
As Kraft kept on saying "We're Patriots all"
From our homes to our work to professional ball;
The New England Patriots - they're Our Team,
The Super Bowl Champs, the American Dream!
I said to my wife, "If the Rams advance
It started many a month ago
The final six games of the regular season
The playoffs began versus Oakland at home
So south to New Orleans the Patriots flew
With no time outs, in a two-minute drill,
So remember the joy that true loyalty brings,
Patriots Pride poem © 2002, Jim Bricker (Jimbricker@aol.com). All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Return to the Beginning of Douglas Yeo's Super Bowl Diary
"Super Bowl," the Super Bowl XXXVI logo, the "Vince Lombardi Trophy" and "NFL" designs are registered trademarks of the National Football League. "New England Patriots," and the New England Patriots team logo are registered trademarks of the New England Patriots. The image of the Boston Globe newspaper of February 4, 2002 is © The Boston Globe. The image of the Sports Illustrated cover of February 11, 2002 is © Sports Illustrated. The image of the "Wheaties" Super Bowl XXXVI Champions box is © General Mills Corporation. Unless otherwise noted, all photos owned by and © Douglas Yeo. This diary, apart from items which are quoted from and copyrighted by others as indicated, is © 2002 Douglas Yeo. All rights reserved.
All rights reserved.