A Service Member’s Night Out for Yo-Yo Ma’s Incredible Performance at Tanglewood

August 26, 2019

Welcome Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Laughlin to the Blue Star Families blog!

It was a dream come true when Blue Star Families sent me an email congratulating me on being selected to receive two tickets to see Yo-Yo Ma in concert at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Given that I’m currently stationed at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, I knew I had to make the roughly two-hour trip. So my friend Angie McMonagle joined me! She’s a former Coast Guardsman whose husband is at the Academy with me.

Here’s a little backstory if you’re not entirely familiar with Yo-Yo Ma: at this time, he’s the world’s best cellist. And Angie and I both listen to him while we work.

I had initially applied for the tickets as a shot in the dark and was thrilled when I received the congratulatory email. I immediately texted Angie with the news. Her response text said, “What time are we leaving?

Yo-Yo Ma performance

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Laughlin with friend Angie McMonagle at Yo-Yo Ma performance

As you know, when you hit the open road, music is a must. Our road trip started with classical music, which then turned to road snacks and Britney Spears, and concluded with coffee and Toddrick Hall.

Due to traffic, we were a bit late. But our spirits were lifted as we were walking up the hill from the parking lot and the sounds of Bach’s Suite No. 1 floated over to us.

Yo-Yo Ma performance

Packed parking lot for the Yo-Yo Ma performance

When those first notes filled the air, we were silent. Every single person who also appeared to be running late stopped to listen. Then, it was a mad dash to get into the gate and find our seats.

Tanglewood is a beautiful venue, with lush grass and trees surrounding an open-air amphitheater. People in chairs and blankets were spread across the lawn back to the gates as thousands of people came to listen to Yo-Yo Ma.

Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma outdoor performance

We found our seats just in time for Bach’s Suite No. 2. Thanks to Blue Star Families, we were in a great spot—close enough to see Yo-Yo Ma on stage, but far enough back to see him up close on the big screens hanging from the ceiling.

As he began to play expertly without sheet music with noticeable joy on his face, we closed our eyes and swayed to the rhythm. After the final notes, the crowd exploded into applause. He then spoke to us about Bach and life.

Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma performance at Tanglewood venue.

He said, “Who knew that when Bach wrote this music about life, that it could bring us all together today. Celebrating together. All of us trying to make meaning with our life.”

He then gave a shoutout to Blue Star Families and the work they do. He asked the military families there to stand and be recognized. As Angie and I stood with the other military families in attendance, the crowd around us cheered in support.

The rest of the concert was perfect. Ultimately, this was a fantastic experience that we will treasure for the rest of our lives.

Thank you, Blue Star Families.

To stay in the loop on unique opportunities to attend events like this one, become a member of Blue Star Families for free today. We can’t wait to welcome you!

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