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.
Thanks to Ball State University Singers alum Luke Meyer, who has over ten years remained a constant and dear one of my ‘kids,’ I attended the 72nd annual Tony Awards on Sunday.
Luke knew one of the cast members of Carousel who had over-purchased his block of tickets, so we had seats four rows from the top of Radio City Music Hall. And except for distance from stage, there’s not a bad seat in the house.
I’ll add some photos at the end of this post, but will share a few thoughts first:
For me, the first big “I’m so glad I’m in this room moment” was witnessing Ari’el Stachel’s acceptance speech. The room was in rapt attention as he spoke of no more being ashamed to be of Middle Eastern descent.
DeNiro stopped the show. And got bleeped on television. Twice. He appeared on stage without any big announcement. In fact, we were still focused on stage left and the end of the previous acceptance speech, and suddenly he was there, using the F word, and exalting in his moment. The room was electric.
Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Chita Rivera both accepted their honorary Tony Awards prior to live air-time, and both delivered lovely speeches. They were each perfect in their own way. But that strange tribute montage during the broadcast was, well, a disaster.
And The Band’s Visit? I’m surprised it cleaned up, but the Tony voters seem to be voting against the commercialization so apparent in the other three nominated new musicals, and they certainly seemed to celebrate this lovely, beautiful, perfect little show.
Springsteen. Wow. Just wow.
My holiday ended in wonderful fashion, and I’m so grateful to Luke for procuring tickets!
The view across the mezzanine.
Another lobby view.
With two Lukes on our way to Radio City Music Hall.
At my seat in the third mezzanine.
Before leaving my hotel.
That’s Patti. Patti Lupone.
The view of the lobby before the show.
And here’s the New York Times review of the broadcast:
I attended a wine & cheese tasting class today at Murray’s Cheese on Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village. I learned some things, and enjoyed a delightful 90 minutes of noshing. That my old student Luke Meyer was with me made the class even more fun!
Today’s panhandler was so polite that I gladly gave the $3 to him.
I was sitting in Union Square Park, enjoying the last few pages of a book. The breeze was cool, and the long park benches just invited people to sit down. My coffee was at my side. I kept hearing acoustic guitar music, and finally realized that a 20-something guy was noodling on his beat-up old guitar, further down the bench.
The sound was enchanting, but I was engrossed in my book.
I didn’t realize he was getting ready to leave until he said “Sir, I’ve not had any coffee today and sure could use some.”
My Dunkin Donuts coffee had cost me less than $3, so I handed him that same amount. Then we talked music theory for ten minutes.
NYC is bedecked in rainbow decals. Store windows have posted broad swaths of rainbow flag stripes.
Union Square market on a Saturday is a lovely place to people-watch, sample food and drink, and (were I to live here) gather foodstuffs for a week.
Photos from this morning:
Get out of Midtown, and suddenly prices do drop a bit.
Kurt and I were in Williamsburg yesterday, and stopped at a bakery. Two pastries and two iced teas were less than $10.
Time now for a nap before seeing another show this evening!
Thursday in NYC. Plans changed after my abbreviated night and a late cancellation for my mid-morning coffee with an alum.
So I had breakfast at the hotel, did some work, went to the Neuegalerie to see some Klimt paintings (including the famous 1907 portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer), talked to a friend in Saigon, talked to my youngest sister, talked to the office, ate lamb over rice from a street truck at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (a darn fine lunch!), eavesdropped on two elderly locals while on the bus on 5th Avenue, took a brief nap, traveled to Greenwich Village and almost missed my stop at 4th St because I was reading, had tea and a long catch-up with Austen Bohmer, enjoyed a manicure, stopped for a moment of homage at the Stonewall Inn, read for a while whilst sitting in Christopher Park at the Stonewall National Monument, ate a meat pie and mash at the Barrow Street Theatre, and enjoyed a totally immersive, way-too-fun production of Sweeney Todd.
Not a bad day!
From the Stonewall National Monument, a very happy Pride celebration to my LBGTQetc. mates around the world: