December 11, at Christ Church Cathedral, Saint Louis.
To friends around the world –
Greetings this Advent from my little haven on Lawn Place in Saint Louis.
The year 2011 is nearly over. Somewhere, it’s snowing. I hit my 50th birthday anniversary this year. Two dear friends threw me a big party, and then the actual day passed quietly with a movie and some Mexican food and an episode of Mad Men.
A few weeks before my birthday, though, I had a health scare with a very minor heart attack. The doctors didn’t confirm that diagnosis, but my mother came to me in a dream a week before my birthday (only the second time in 13 years that she has done so) and told me to trust what I knew to be true, and to make some changes. So I’ve dropped a bit of weight, and continue to work slowly at that. I’ve changed a few things in my daily life too.
The year has been filled with travel. In the last three months alone, I have traveled on business to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Interlochen, Michigan. I hit New York City twice this year. Most recently, I spent ten days in Europe on Webster University business.
Along the way this year, I especially enjoyed visiting the UN Headquarters in NYC, Frank Lloyd Wright’s western getaway in Scottsdale, and FDR’s home at Hyde Park. And Bratislava, Slovakia, a city that will beckon me again.
My big first-act song, 'Perspective.'
One of my themes this year has been musical theatre. I continue to explore the riches of Saint Louis theatre, but this year I added to that a return to the stage in She Loves Me at one of our local pro companies. The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch had some nice things to say about me. I was gratified, of course, as I felt pretty rusty after 19 years away from the stage. Several others reviewers also gave me compliments. The fun of doing the show was enhanced by being on stage with two of my college voice students and several Webster University Conservatory kids.
A few weeks later, I debuted as music consultant for a production of Red at the Repertory Theatre of Saint Louis and a playhouse in Cincinnati.
During my NYC trips this year, I saw
I added to that in London a production of War Horse, and in Vienna a production of Salome by Strauss.
I have added to my portfolio of citizen activities a 2012 spot as voting panelist for the Kevin Kline Awards, a Saint Louis version of the Tony Awards. I continue to serve as a panelist for the Regional Arts Commission, and as an international board member for the Conductors Guild, Inc., where I chair the Publications Committee.
We had some successes at Webster University this year, including a major external refurbishment of the venerable old Thompson House, some hefty changes to our departmental curriculum, and the addition of a new faculty line, increasing the size of our faculty. I am co-chair of a major university committee this year. And I received word this week that my initial review is successful, so I am now a permanent faculty member. As last year ended we moved in a number of new Steinway pianos, a fact we continue to celebrate.
June found me leading my final concerts as Artistic Director of the Gateway Men’s Chorus. A few weeks later the group released the second CD recording of my three-year tenure with them. I’m proud of this product, and delighted with the artistic successes we experienced during my leadership. Our last concert together featured my friend Christine Brewer as guest soloist.
The University of Central Missouri named me their 2011 Department of Music Distinguished Alumnus this year.
On the home front, Samson the Feist continues to be a delightful and boon companion. (He is snuggled next to me as I write this evening.) I am contemplating some minor home renovations for 2012, but otherwise all remains copacetic.
My Uncle Edwin, Mom’s brother, died a few months ago. All that is left now of that line of the family is Aunt Esther, still going strong at 99.5 years, and my sisters and I. The family in Lee’s Summit and Kansas City are all well and hale. Karen’s two kids are still in college; Beth’s are in high school and elementary school. I love being a doting uncle.
At the Royal Mews in London.
Here are some of my favorite blog posts of the year:
This is a joyous time in the midst of a broken and not-yet-contrite world. My prayer for this season and the new year is for peace, honesty, justice, and truth to prevail in our land and our society, and in my own relationships with those who inhabit my daily life and my larger world.
As I sign off from this annual tradition, I share this wonderful show closer from the 2010 Gateway Men’s Chorus holiday show. Enjoy!
And if you need one more sugary Christmas fix, check this out.
Grace and peace,