A few years ago, I gave a concert at WHYY studios in Philadelphia. It was a Downton Abbey themed concert, with soprano Melinda Whittington. It was a special donor event - one night only. I flew in the night before, and they put me in a hotel right in historic Philadelphia, near Independence Hall, which is where the founding fathers debated and adopted the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. I was hoping to have time to visit Independence Hall before the concert. But I could not...because I was sick.
You see, just hours before the concert I was a total mess. I had some kind of bug, and my body was trying very hard to expel it from my body. I also had a fever and could barely stand up for more than a few seconds without getting dizzy.
But the show had to go on.
Somehow I summoned the fortitude necessary to walk the two blocks from my hotel to WHYY. As I walked incredibly slowly, taking breaks to catch my breath, I noticed another major historical landmark - the Liberty Bell. The bell is inside a building, but you can glimpse it from outside, through a window. As I took a moment to check out the ol' Liberty Bell, I felt an inexplicable jolt of energy and determination. Hey, if George Washington could cross the freezing Delaware, I could cross Market Street and make it to this concert. Slowly but surely, I marched down the street, humming John Philip Sousa’s "Liberty Bell March," of course. I arrived at the concert hall, sat down at the piano, and to my relief, felt great. And the concert went swimmingly! Afterwards, when I got back to my hotel room, I immediately collapsed and went back to being sick for the evening.
This was a very interesting experience. I was truly worried that I was not going to be able to give this concert. But I did. Was it adrenaline? Was it God? Or was it the invigorating spirit of the Liberty Bell? I think it might have been the Liberty Bell. So here is my offering of gratitude to America’s enduring symbol of freedom: