Category Archives: Travel 2019

Seems like

A commence-sabbatical gift from a student.

Ken in Kansas wrote about my sabbatical the other “Seems like it’s been a good one.”

My response: “You know me.  Not nearly enough of the planned work accomplished, but I’ve been happily occupied.  Still too many books to read, too many musical ideas swimming around my head that need to get on paper, too many journals stacked up.  And too much stuff in the house that I had intended to tidy and purge.

“But YES.”

And then I start thinking.

In the last year, trips to Austria and Sweden and Italy and Russia and Spain and Morocco and Canada.  GOOD LORD!

My official statement about sabbatical projects: “engage in professional development and personal enrichment and creative activities.”

In the last five months:

  • music director/composer for Circus Harmony
  • Variety Children’s Charity chorus conductor (prepping now for a concert with Sting)
  • two NASM-related trips to Washington, D.C.
  • a handful of cooking classes at Kitchen Conservatory and Missouri Botanical Garden
  • successfully kept/keeping sourdough starter alive
  • two trips to Chicago
  • Thanksgiving in NYC
  • and three more NYC trips, with shows including The Prom, The Choirboy, Superhero, Kiss Me Kate, and Merrily We Roll Along
  • major curriculum revisions signed, sealed, delivered at Webster
  • NASM HEADS report finished at Webster
  • talk and dinner with Jamie Bernstein, daughter of Leonard Bernstein
  • pandas at the National Zoo!
  • two house-party singing performances with Dr. Ruth Price
  • lyrics written for a new super-song based on my visit to Saint Andrew’s Church, Tangier
  • visits to the Saint Louis Art Museum, Campbell House, the Missouri Botanical Garden
  • all sorts of new pairs of spectacles
  • service on the Faculty Research Grants committee at Webster
  • advocacy consulting with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
  • Crossroads Hospice volunteer training
  • several books read . . . .
  • lots of new music learned and ready to be taught
  • hundreds of voice lessons at home
  • taxes finished and filed
  • Vienna curriculum meeting in NYC, and follow-up report and planning
  • three senior voice students coached and managed through college musical theatre auditions
  • shepherded four high school students to top ratings at District solo/ensemble contest
  • lunches with alumni and friends
  • successfully passed an annual physical
  • got scolded by my dental technician
  • worshipped at St. Thomas Fifth Avenue, St. Mary the Virgin Times Square, St. James Cathedral Chicago, Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral Kansas City, and Washington National Cathedral
  • blogged daily, and wrote in my journal almost daily
  • lived and loved and left, and am single again.

This is not a bad list at all!  Professional development?  Yup.  Personal enrichment and creativity?  You bet!!

While I was removed from the daily scrum at Webster, I never truly left the fray.  As I said to a friend the other day, “my role and duties at Webster pervade who I am at this point in my life.  I can’t talk away from thinking about the bigger picture, and all that entails.”  And I don’t mind that all.

But I am indeed grateful for some time away from the scrum!


Some photos from sabbatical:

Proud teacher

Ben Love and Jacob Flekier performed their senior showcase in New York City this week.  Both are voice students of mine at Webster University.

I’m so proud of these guys!

Photos from the showcase performance:

Also this trip: I caught up with Webster University Department of Music alumna Jennifer Johnson Cano, who is tearing it up on the opera and concert stage, including this week at the Metropolitan Opera.

Cufflinks & books

Many of my daylight hours on Tuesday were spent with cufflinks and books.

The Missing Link is a local store in Chelsea.  I’ve written about them before.

And I spent too much  . . . ahem, time . . . there on Tuesday, leaving with eleven new-to-me pairs of cufflinks.  A sampling:

I went through these trays to find eleven pairs that cried out for me:

I could have done some real damage, with $300-500 cufflinks available:

But I left happy!

After lunch of chicken and a biscuit . . .

I headed to the Grolier Club for two extraordinary exhibits. One was written up in the New York Times last week:

From the miniature book exhibit:

Monday in NYC

A full day!  11,415 steps, according to the iPhone.  That’s 3.6 miles of walking. I believe it, based on how my feet feel Monday evening.

Looking west from my hotel room window, morning and late afternoon:

And looking north on 8th Avenue:

Notice how the tall buildings do not cast a shadow north of Columbus Circle. That’s Central Park territory.

Happy Socks = happy man.

Yufei and I had drinks at The Aviary at the Mandarin Hotel on Columbus Circle.  And we had some incredibly good Iberico ham.

From my walk back to the hotel tonight:

I took Jennifer Johnson Cano to lunch on Monday, and also spent a couple of glorious hours at the New York City Public Library performing arts branch at Lincoln Center.  Walking across Lincoln Center plaza with Jennifer felt like something out of a movie. And I had drinks and a nosh with my former student Jordan Parente Monday evening.

From the Library today, Jerome Robbins‘ Lincoln Center Honors award:

Yufei reminded me of why I love NYC so much:

Art on Paper

Yufei took me on Sunday to an art fair, Art on Paper, at Pier 36 on the East River.  Artists and galleries ranged from around the world.

Prices were incredibly high for my budget.  But I saw some wonderful items!  My favorites were the Dave Eggers prints, and some work by John Gibson in mixed media.

That banging you hear?  A coconut juice bar nearby.

The John Gibson work that so entranced me:

ROW NYC: the saga

My NYC flights are usually morning ones, most often the 7.30 a.m. departure on Southwest to LGA.

But district solo/ensemble contest was Saturday, and I booked the 7.20 p.m. flight instead.  That meant arriving at LGA around 10.45 or 11 p.m.  Then waiting for luggage (‘overpacker’ is my usual middle name, and was this trip).  Then being shuttled to the remote-location taxi queue.  Then the trip to Manhattan via the Midtown Tunnel and across Manhattan and up 8th Ave.

Since I’m with a Webster group this trip, I’m at Webster’s usual NYC hotel, ROW NYC.

I finally arrived at the hotel at midnight.  The queue for the front desk took another 12 minutes.

And at 12.15 a.m. I arrived at room 819 . . . to find a Do Not Disturb sign on the door, and noises emitting from the room that suggested the room was not empty.

With luggage, I went back down to reception. From what I could tell from the conversation, Security never did go check the room, and after about 20 minutes I said something about going to the Hilton down the street.  (I was actively checking the Hilton app.)

And just like that, I’m put into a suite for the night, with clear instructions to leave that room on Sunday morning, check my luggage, and return Sunday afternoon for an upgraded room (from the original 819).

The hotel made the situation right, and took care of me.  The two inconveniences — waiting an hour on Saturday evening for a room, and moving the next day — both brought apologies, and also thanks from me for ‘making it right.’

And I’m now in a corner room on a high floor, watching the fog roll in over the Hudson River!