Greetings as we approach Christmastide 2017, and as we celebrate the return of the sun this week with the winter solstice.
We heralded the new light of the winter season on Thursday this week by celebrating the life of my father, V. Richard Carter, who died on December 17. His death was the result of a vile and evil acute myeloid leukemia. We had six weeks and three days from the first mention of the illness to his last breath.
Pop’s passing shadows the rest of the year. But as usual, I should report that this year has been filled with travel to various points around the country, a great deal of theatre, and (new this year) a growing private voice studio with wonderfully talented students.
I continue at Webster University as Professor & Chair in the Department of Music. We welcomed a new colleague this semester, and said ‘so long’ to a retiring senior faculty member in Spring 2017. We also enjoyed a full-semester visiting scholar from Vienna this past 16 weeks. Our new programs continue to grow, and every day is a new adventure.
The loss of my father is counter-balanced this year by the birth, many weeks premature, of my first great-niece, Lily Riffle. She is now a healthy and hearty six+ months, and a delight to hold and carry and feed, and then give back to her parents. Her parents, Blayne and Sarah Riffle, were married last year. Blayne’s sister married this year, and so we now have Jimmy and Kristen Lachance in the family as well.
I started the year in Hong Kong, which was my big trip for the year. But I do know already that 2018 is going to bring some fun international travel!
Regarding the growth of my private studio: a local children’s voice specialist closed her studio, and I inherited a number of Muny Kids and Muny Teens. These talented students are a delight and joy to teach! And my long-term student Aaron was selected for the National Honor Choir and a regional honor ensemble as well, in addition to All-State Choir for the second year in a row. Meanwhile, Spencer is out on tour with The King and I.
I have new neighbors all around. A young couple bought and rehabbed the house just of me this year, while a different couple, and their daughter Olivette, moved in just north of me. And then just a few weeks ago the Boo Radley house two doors up sold (at a high price, thanks be to god) to yet another young couple. Suddenly I’m the old-man-in-the-middle. But I love indeed the safety of new neighbors, and the care that these folks are taking with their own property.
I ended the school year with a guest conducting gig, leading our Chamber Singers in two numbers at the annual concert we call A Gift to the City. Here’s a sound file of my own setting of Thomas Hardy’s poem ‘The Oxen,’ written 16 years ago for Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City:
So we enter Christmastide with one more week left in 2017. The events of the year-end are life-changers, and truth be told I’m a bit at sea right now. I’ll regroup over the next weeks, and look forward to a sabbatical in Fall 2018.
The annual remembrance of the birth of Christ brings us hope for a better 2018, in our own lives and in the wider world. May it be so.
P.S. — stay tuned for the year-in-review photo montage next week!