Category Archives: Travel 2019

NASM 2019

I am in Chicago as Webster University’s voting representative to the annual meeting of National Association of Schools of Music.

The meeting is always the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, and we are often in warmer climates, but Chicago is the place this year.  I arrived early to take in some of my favorite places at the Art Institute of Chicago, and to catch a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert.

Around the conference sessions, I’ve also had hotel-room time to finish some projects and write plenty of emails.  I’m feeling a bit more caught-up at the office.

One of the joys of these conferences is seeing friends and colleagues from around the nation.  Hallway conversations turn into meals or drinks.  Quick hugs turn into lingering conversations.  And all is right with the world.

Another joy?  Food!

I dined on Chicago-style pizza, AKA ‘heart attack in a deep dish,’ on Sunday evening, at Lou Malnati’s around the corner on State Street. The buttery crust was heaven.

Afterward, walking back to the hotel, I was asked by four nice men hanging around street corner “Are you stuffed, ’cause I’m really hungry”.  I gladly handed over my box with the last two chunks of pizza, and in fact had left the pizza joint with that box, hoping to run into someone who looked like a meal would be a nice thing.  I demurred, though, at buying the same man a 40-oz. beer in the corner 7-11.


The Hilton Chicago has a huge gingerbread display in the elevator lobby on the main floor:


The conference’s plenary sessions always feel a bit like an old Soviet five-year meeting, with dutiful approvals of pre-ordained decisions.

But there’s some fun too, like asking the question “Which of these photos best represents music theory meetings at a conference like this?”.

This was a rolling photo display on a meeting room call board . . . .


Finally, an obligatory selfie from Sunday morning:

I think I had on the only pink shirt in a room of 800 people.

CSO

Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  Saturday evening subscription concert.

Juanjo Mena conducts the CSO in a program featuring Holst’s powerful and haunting The Planets. Sally Matthews, a soprano of “incandescent verve” (The Times, London), performs two scenes from Barber’s 1966 opera that opened the Metropolitan Opera’s new house at Lincoln Center. Detroit-based composer James Lee III’s celebratory Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula illustrates an ancient Hebrew harvest festival refracted through the lens of the Book of Revelation.

My soul thus refreshed, I am ready for the annual meeting of the National Association of Schools of Music.

Chicago afternoon

I arrived yesterday, dropped my bags at the hotel, and immediately set out for the Art Institute of Chicago.

I made my way quickly to the stunning and magnificent collection of Impressionism, spending some decent time with Renoir and Monet, and of course Georges.

And I’ve never visited the small Islamic collection at the Art Institute, so I spent some time there.

And then the Chagall windows.  These amazing Chagall windows:

My leg was talking to me — well, screaming at me — so I walked back to the hotel and took a two-hour nap.

Last two weeks

I am missing three shows, but this is the loot from the last two weeks.

Missing: Lightning Thief, Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and Big Apple Circus.

What a two weeks! Two operas at the Met. Circa from Australia as part of the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center. John Williams with the SLSO. My own voice student heading Brighton Beach Memoirs. And all these musicals, both in NYC and in STL . . . .

Fall Break NYC: heading home

I’m in the Centurion Lounge at Laguardia.  Peace and silence surrounds on a Sunday morning, which is apparently a very quiet time at LGA.  I shan’t complain.

Rain is coming down outdoors.  I can see the seagulls flapping about on the taxiways, and the expanse of Flushing Bay and the East River just beyond.  All is gray.  This is the right day to be leaving New York City.

But what an exceptional week this been.

I started my Fall Break with a meal with Jeff Allison, my beloved former student, now an Ensign in the US Navy, and in medical school.  That I evening I saw another now-former student, Jacob Flekier, in Brighton Beach Memoirs at New Jewish Theatre.  He and I shared a valedictory (benedictory?) dinner and some singing the next evening.  This brilliant and talented young man is poised to do some great things, and I am one proud teacher.

Monday was a full day at the office, then some fun singing with the increasingly crisp-sounding Variety Children’s Chorus. I had lunch with a college sophomore who is a delightful student, and a mentor to others.

Then NYC.  I packed in the activity this trip: two visits to the Metropolitan Opera, two Broadway shows, one Off-Broadway show, one developmental reading of a new show, two circus performances, a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a visit to the Grolier Club, a visit to the Morgan Library.  Several fine meals.  Numerous subway rides, and a few bus rides.  So much walking.  Meals with dear friends, colleagues, former students who are now part of the fabric of my life.  And some time with my German friendship family student from Webster.

New shoes and luggage and some fun socks were the extent of my shopping.

The God-winks this trip were numerous.  Jessica Hentoff happened to be in town at the same time, thus the circus visits.  Malte Hansen happened to be in town, thus the German student time.  Spencer Jones and family were in town for the 29-hour-workshop of Corner of Bitter and Sweet, thus the breakfast with them and the industry reading.  Manon was in its final performances at the Met, and my cheering and braying was carried worldwide yesterday.  The weather has been perfect.  Autumn in Manhattan is a treat.

And as always, I’m ready to be home.

 

 

 

Fall Break NYC: Manon and such

Saturday.  What a delightful day!

10.30 a.m.  Brunch at The Smith with Audrey McHale (Webster BFA ’12, just returned from a year at Disney Tokyo) and Chase Thomaston (Webster BFA ’17, now on the industry side in NYC).  These two are cherished alums from my voice studio, and very dear people!

Then to the Metropolitan Opera for Manon.  Here’s the story:

I was in a box seat on the Grand Tier at the Met.  The $160 ticket was totally worth the experience.

But the Met is fraying a bit too:

Since today was a simulcast worldwide, we got a bit of a sense of an intermission feature, an interview with the prompter:

Here’s a view of the Met chandeliers on their pre-show ascent:

And after the opera, a very happy me:

Here’s the trailer from the Met website.