Category Archives: Travel 2010

#TBT: places

As travel restrictions mount, I’m thinking of all the wonderful and meaningful places I’ve traveled since 1994, and the important cultural and personal relationships that were the focus of these trips.

A lifetime of memories lives in these photos:

Candles and flowers

My travels around the world have taught me a few things.

1.  Candles in the window on cold days really can dispel the gloom and chill. (Copenhagen 2010)

The front window of the restaurant.  Look at the candles in the lanterns beside the door.
The front window of the restaurant. Look at the candles in the lanterns beside the door.

2.  Flowers in the front window brighten up the house, both indoors and out.  (Worcester 2013)


3.  Often times, the best meals include both pork and beef.  (Prague 2013)

Veal medallions with potatoes.
Veal medallions with potatoes.

4.  There is no place like home.  (Saint Louis, 2015)


Pomp in Denmark

At the 2010 Conductors Guild conference in Copenhagen, attendees attempted a world-record number of conductors for one piece.  One of the main Danish orchestras, the National Danish Symphony Orchestra played a familiar Elgar march . . . over and over and over.  I think the whole thing went on for about 20 minutes.

If you look closely just after the 2.30 mark, you’ll see me have my go, as conductor #68, at eight beats for a few seconds.  I’m spotted again, backstage this time, at 7.00.

My friends Nick and Stephen are at the 3.36 and immediately following, although Stephen gets short shrift.

We did NOT beat the world record, but we had fun trying.

I have to lose weight.

Annual holiday letter

Dear friends and family around the world,

The year 2010 has been a very content one at the Carter home in Saint Louis.

In the Vigelund park, with snow falling on Oslo.

I started the year with a conference in Denmark and a side trip to Norway, returning here late on the evening before school began in January.  Other travel this year has included three trips to NYC, a short conference in Philly, a conference in Dallas, two brief trips to Chicago, a dash to Traverse City (Michigan), a board meeting in Washington DC, and of course several trips across the state to my hometown of Lee’s Summit.  Travel never grows old, and I do so enjoy these journeys.  You may want to click the Travel 2010 link on the right to see more of these trips, including video of the Queen of Denmark in January 2010.

Webster University's Thompson House music building.

Webster University is my employer in Saint Louis.  We have grown this year, with a major announcement a few weeks ago that we are now an All-Steinway School, the 123rd such institution in the world.  This is a major step forward for our Department of Music!  The pianos are actually arriving this week, capping off a great year for us.  We have hired a third new faculty member since I arrived; a fourth search this year will add another faculty line to the department.  Our NASM review is over, with the next steps being some curriculum change and a close look at what we do on a daily basis.  At Webster I continue to teach eight voice students, teach a fall-term music fundamentals class for theatre students, and Chair the Department of Music.

A bow for the AD.

My other local gig: Artistic Director of the Gateway Men’s Chorus.  Last weekend we sang a holiday concert with the largest number of guys we’ve had on stage in over five years, to the largest houses we’ve had in over five years.  Growth and forward movement is apparent to all.  We sang a concert with orchestra in March, and presented that same concert in Indianapolis a week later.  This summer we recorded a CD, Love Changes Everything.  The disc is available through our website, or for download on CDbaby or iTunes.  And we continue to engage in a great deal of community activity that is paying off in audience size and local notice.

Last month I celebrated two years in my home on Lawn Place.  Samson the Feist has been with me for most of those two years.

The family continues in Lee’s Summit; 2011 marks 40 years since we settled there.  Pop and Jo are doing well, altho Pop had a slight cancer scare earlier this year.  Karen lives in North Kansas City.  Her two children are now 22 and 20, with both in college.  Beth and her brood live in Lee’s Summit, still in the family home.  Anna is now 14 and in 8th grade; Luke in 4th grade; Joe, in pre-school at a very precocious five years old.  Aunt Esther is the last of her generation still with us.  She celebrated her 98th birthday in April.

JC with members of the Gateway Men's Chorus prior to auditioning for America's Got Talent.

I’ve had a bit of notoriety this year, with a radio interview last month in my role as AD of the American International Choral Festival, and a brush with America’s Got Talent.  For the latter, the men’s chorus was invited to audition for the show, and then invited to the first round in Chicago.  We didn’t make the national broadcast, but we had a good time anyway!  I continue to hear my voice on the local NPR station from time to time.

And I catch as much theatre as I can in what limited spare time I have.  One of my best memories of 2010 will likely be the three different production I saw of Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, including the Broadway production with both of the casts – Angela Lansbury in one, Bernadette Peters in the other!

My annual holiday carol is written but not yet ready for print, so that must wait for later this week.  If you’ll look back on the last two weeks of this blog, though, you will find a number of sound clips from various holiday concerts over the years; check back over the next two weeks for many more!

Next summer I turn 50.  Expect a letter next year full of tales of birthday revels and a body that I expect will fall part upon the exact day of my 50th birthday!

To all who grace my life in one way or another, I say “have a blessed and happy Christmas.”  May the Light of Life brighten your darkness this season and always.


Me and the mutt.
JC on board the Amtrak to Chicago.
On the other side of the Top of the Rock, with Central Park in the background.
A staredown at Laumeier.
That's a Rembrandt on the wall.
Dancing on my coffin in 'Scrooge.' That's me in the cream-colored nightshirt with no socks.

This last photo is just for fun . . . and it’s from 1998!

DC Sunday

With malice toward none, with charity for all . . . .

~Abraham Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address, 1865

My work here in Arlington done, I spent the remainder of the day in two holy places (three if you count the Mexican restaurant where I ate dinner).

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I traveled up to the National Cathedral for a pilgrimage and Evensong (Stanford in C!), where I sat in the choir and sang my heart out on the opening hymn, Lauda Anima.  (This hymn will be the opener at my funeral, many years from now.)

And then, after visiting by phone with Chris about some chorus business, I traveled south to the Lincoln Memorial.  The ranger talk at 6 p.m. was informative.  And I, as always, shed some tears at this holy place.

My walk across Arlington Bridge to the Metro stop took me over the Potomac, tracing the steps of Kennedy’s caisson in 1963.

And here I am at the hotel, getting some work done before departing early tomorrow morning for STL.

DC today

Every truth has two sides.  It is well to look at both, before we commit ourselves to either.


Today . . . September 10 . . . I have been a traveler and tourist.  After a pressure-cooker week, today has been a delight.

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I rose at 5 a.m. and was at the airport waiting at the gate by 6.10 a.m.  Since I was in First Class, I was among the first to board the jet.  The Appalachians were a wonder to see from my starboard window.  The breakfast was not a wonder – Chex cereal, yogurt, banana, bagel.  When did First Class cease to include a hot breakfast?  Alas.

My Conductors Guild, Inc. international board meeting is in Arlington at a Holiday Inn on Jefferson Davis Parkway.  The hotel is part of a large block of hotels here that cater to meetings of 25-200 people.  (The hotel where I stayed 11 months ago, when here for the Arts Schools Network, is just four blocks north.)  So, rather than being in the city, I’m a ten-minute walk and 15-minute Metro ride from the heart of Washington DC.

My hotel room was not ready, so I dropped my bags and set off for the Metro.  Just a few minutes later I was at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  They seemed confused.  One of the security guards was saying tickets were necessary for a tour; another, not necessary. After part of the queue was allowed in for a 12 noon tour, but the rest of us were kept waiting with no explanation, and after seeing a tour lunch break posted until 1 p.m., I left.

Fortunately, the National Holocaust Museum is immediately next door, so I ducked in for a 30-minute slow walk through a special exhibition on Nazi propaganda and its effect on the nation.  This was pretty chilling, and I kept thinking of that bigot in Florida who got his week of hate-filled fame with propagandistic Koran-burning messages.

I’m happy to report that Mr. Washington’s monument is still standing tall.

Just a few blocks away, on the north side of the Mall, is Federal Triangle.  I knew they had a decent food court, so I stopped in for some Asian yummies for a late lunch.  A quick Metro ride got me to Union Station, where I bought a new pair of slacks and a shirt at the Jos. A. Bank store.  My big purpose of going there, though, was to go postal at the National Postal Museum right next door.  A happy hour there was well spent.

My weary feet were suggesting it was time to head out to the ‘burbs at about 4 p.m., so I did.  Two hours later, after checking in at the office, returning some calls, and getting a fresh shower, I headed back north to Pentagon City Mall to do some shoe shopping.

Sadly, I was in an impulse mood, so I also purchased socks.  And some Origins care products for the face and body.  And some herbal pillows (see this for more explanation).

This area of Crystal City is home to a little strip known as Restaurant Row.  Walking back from the Metro, purchases in hand (and nearly dragging the ground), I stopped at Cucina Vivace for a splendid meal of of insalata Cesare and gnocchi.  The waiter told me that the gnocchi was his wife’s second-favorite item on the menu.  I assured him that she was wrong.  That gnocchi was some of the best darn food I’ve ever eaten.

And what of Washington, based on my few hours there yesterday?  The city is stilled crowded with tourists from around the world, but not as much as in summer.  DC is beautiful this time of year, with late summer pouring ’round, cooler temperatures and mild breezes.  And my heart quickens just landing here as I see that first glimpse of the obelisk and the Capitol dome and our magnificent National Cathedral rising on the heights up on Wisconsin in the northwest corner of the city.


Saturday morning now.  I ran out of steam last evening, and ran into a couple of my CG colleagues when I ventured downstairs for a drink late in the evening.

My allergies are kicking up a bit.

McDonald’s is right next door. Breakfast was a Big Breakfast with a tall coffee.  Ugh.  But it’s the cheapest thing within a walk, and I want to see shekels for the dinners.  Board meeting starts in a few hours.  My office time for the weekend commences now.

(A quick sidebar: my blog got 350 hits in the 24 hours following my announcement of the great parting of the happy couple.  I’m either living my life too publicly, or people really like to know the dirt, or I’m more popular than I thought!)