Click on any photo for the full version! Happy end of year!!
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:
- The emotional high point of the evening was the appearance on stage of students from Florida, singing “Seasons of Love” from Rent.
- 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!
And here’s the New York Times review of the broadcast: