Probably 1973 or 1974. Snowball the Spitz is behind me. My sisters are beside me. On the front step of our house on Wingate in Lee’s Summit.
Why do I look so much like a preacher or used-car salesman?
From six years ago:
Boxing Day, where the masters of yore gave to the servants gifts (boxes) of money, or treasure, or (as seen in Downton Abbey) cloth to make make clothes.
I’m spending the day in Lee’s Summit, catching up with people from years ago, seeing my sister and family, and figuring out things to do with two very disinterested nephews.
Christmas Day feast included brisket supplied by me, mashed potatoes, baked beans and green beans, salad, and the usual assortment of sweet treats that hearken back to our childhood. And Prosecco.
Christmas Day also included virtual attendance at Washington National Cathedral, thanks to the webcast of their Christmas Day Eucharist on YouTube. I partook of everything whilst driving, except for the actual act of communion, of course.
The new car behaved admirably, although I must say that the gadgets and driver-helpers on the car some getting used to!
Now into the evening, and I’m at my hotel and ready for sleep. Going to midnight service on Christmas Eve gets harder as one gets older. The drive today on I-70 was easy, but staying awake wasn’t.
A Christmas selfie:
Youngest nephew Joseph is quite the teenage zoologist. My sister suggested I take him to the Kansas City Zoo at Swope Park on Wednesday last, so Joe and I waited out the rain and then spent two hours with sea lions and tigers and lorikeets and kangaroos and red pandas and Merino sheep and such. And a good time was had by all.
Five years ago, I was inducted into the Lee’s Summit High School Hall of Fame.
As I near the unbelievable thought of a 40-year reunion of high school classmates later this year, I keep thinking of that visit back to LSHS in April 2014.
I was surrounded by love that evening. My sisters and their spouses, my father and step-mother, treasured music teachers from my childhood, my high school guidance counselor, a few old friends.
Here’s the blog entry from five years ago: https://jeffreycarter.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/lshs-hall-of-fame/
With today’s blog entry, I’m starting a series of reminiscences, based on some prompts I’ve bene reading.
I grew up singing in church. That much I know for certain.
My mother couldn’t carry a tune if she tried. My father sang in key, but when notes got too high, he’d plop down an octave. His singing range was limited. His rhythm, however, was flawless, as befits someone who played drums growing up.
I remember going to the organ console after church services, and watching the organist. This would have been at Calvary Baptist in Columbia, and then at Fifth Street Baptist in Hannibal. At some point in Hannibal, I got to push the cancel button after the postlude was complete, and watch all those pistons return to their off position.
In Hannibal, my music teacher was a Mrs. Froman. Music classes at Mark Twain Elementary were held in the homeroom classroom, rather than a separate music classroom.
We moved to Hannibal as I started first grade. At some subsequent point, my parents gifted me with a Magnus chord organ. I was probably in second grade. I taught myself how to play “Long, long ago.” This was my first keyboard experience that I can remember.
But G-ma Blocher owned a massive old upright grand piano, and I probably banged on that at some point.
There was also most likely children’s choir at church, but I have no clear memory.
We moved to Lee’s Summit as I started the last quarter of fourth grade. There I found
These are my earliest musical memories.
Piano lessons came later, starting in 6th or 7th grade.
I grew up singing. And I grew up staring at keyboard instruments until I was old enough to play them, and my parents had enough money to provide for lessons.
After Webster University Commencement, I flew (literally) across the state to see my family, gathered in one place for the first time since my father’s funeral seventeen months ago.
All three of Richard & Marie’s children were there, along with the five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. The occasion was a celebration of Luke’s 18 years, and his graduation from high school.
Easter IV was celebrated at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (AKA Smokey Mary’s), where I sat by and sang with Leona Schaefer, with my long-time acquaintance Geoffrey Wilcken at the organ, and my colleague Tony Maglione leading the choir. The liturgy was perfect!
I’m 57 years old.
And I still remember the names of teachers, from elementary school through college, who made a huge impression along the way. I often bless them and their memory, knowing that their instruction, guidance, and example is part of what made me who I am today.
Mr. Keith was my elementary school principal after we moved to Lee’s Summit in 1971. He was a good man.
Rest in peace, Mr. Keith. You have earned your eternal reward.
Greetings to friends and family around the world. I write on the day of the winter solstice, and note with sadness that this world seems particularly darker than it did a year ago. I pray for light and truth to again be kindled in the hearts of those who lead, and who alone can set to the tone for this world.
May it be so.
Even with the death of my father in the waning days of 2017, my own 2018 has been significantly brighter than national and international news might allow!
Winter. A solo cabaret act. Loads of teaching and concert-going and the robust time of the year at the office. A quiet winter without any significant travel except for a quick trip to Naples, Florida to see Spencer go on as Prince Chulalongkorn in The King and I.
Spring. Begins with a trip to Moscow to discuss collaborations. Attend a concert in Tchaikowsky Hall. Tourist for full, long day in Moscow. Holy Week in London, with services at St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey. My former student sings Gerontius at King’s College Cambridge. Wrap up the school year with a sizable graduating class. Pack up and finish work on my father’s estate. A week in NYC, and confirmation of a budding relationship. Solo/ensemble contest brings solid results. Senior recitals with three voice students. Attend the Tony Awards. Celebrated the completion of 10 years at Webster University.
Summer. Begins with a week in Lincoln at a conference. Then to Vienna on the Messing Faculty Award for three weeks of research and curriculum development. Side trips to Stockholm and Florence. Allergies abound in Vienna! Wept copious tears at the sight of Michelangelo’s David. Start the new school year with days of meetings, and a robust new-student class. Yufei visits Saint Louis. Start work with Variety Children’s Choruses as the new conductor. Celebrate my 57th birthday with a day of museum visits in Vienna, and a screening of The Third Man at a kino.
Autumn. Auggie turns 8. Sabbatical begins in mid-October. Accept a gig with Circus Harmony as composer and music director for the big January show. Start traveling immediately. Chicago with Yufei. Toronto and Niagara Falls with my nephew Luke. Washington, D.C. (pandas!!) and NYC with Yufei. Chicago again. And Christmas at home in Lee’s Summit with my sisters. Attend multiple Circus Harmony classes and practices. Conduct a holiday concert with the Variety Children’s Choruses. Attend Joffrey Ballet and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Over the course of the year I’ve witnessed powerful live concert performances. Viewed some of the world’s greatest artworks. Learned more about cooking. Kept up the slow renovations on a 100+ year-old home. Enjoyed some stunning meals (Stockholm, Vienna, Chicago, NYC all were gastro-delight locations). Worshipped in grand and beautiful spaces. Composed some decent music. Shot loads and loads of photos (I’m starting to understand light much better). Whipped up homemade plum jam and blood orange marmalade. Taken various architectural tours. Read more books than the year before, and also a big chunk of the Bible. Extended my cufflink-buying spree with a dozen new pairs. Imparted lessons about singing, and about life, with students. Loved on my dog. Caught up with friends in far-flung places. Bought more new eyeglasses. Fallen in love.
Not a bad year indeed.
May 2019 bring us comfort and joy and challenges that we can together address.