Tag Archives: travel

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.

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.

I’m old enough . . .

I’m old enough that I know these things about traveling:

  • Comfortable shoes are must.  Walking is tiring.
  • Look up.  One misses the splendor of cities when eyes are only cast forward.
  • Never pass up a toilet break, or a bus-driver in Germany once said, “eine kleine pee-pee-pause.”  I’m all right for now will quickly become Oh my lord, where’s the restroom?
  • I’m gonna eat what I want.  If that’s a hot dog from a cart on the street, or a toasted bagel with loads of cream cheese, so be it.
  • My body knows best.  When it says “take Friday evening off,” then that’s I do.  After stopping at the Macy’s flagship store and having a nice steak dinner.
  • NPR is the great uniter of my life.  I listen to it no matter what city or country I happen to be in.
  • I really can travel with fewer shirts and trousers than I think.
  • It’s just money.  And I work hard for it.  So I’m gonna spend some of it.
  • Water pressure in the shower really does matter.
  • A good hotel experience can make or break a trip.  (cf. my awful hotel experience in Williamsburg more than a decade ago)
  • Journaling assists in keeping me balanced and aware.
  • Stop to smell the roses.  Watch the dogs play.  People-watch.  Enjoy the breeze.  Stare in horror at tragic hair.
  • And have fun trying to figure out the accents and backgrounds of people you hear around you.

 

Rants and raves

If I survive this semester . . . .


New eyeglasses are better than new clothes.


I hope that man who so precipitously and rudely cut me off on Kingshighway on Thursday (in a red van-ish SUV of some indeterminate sort) is proud of the words he made spew from my mouth.


Electronics are made for obsolescence.  I had to replace my 5.1 receiver this week.  These things are ‘spensive!


Even in the midst of such busy days at the office, and full days of teaching voice lessons, finding some time to whip up a meal is a sheer delight.


Quiche makes me happy.


I gave a talk this week about my sabbatical, and provided a nibble of babkas at the conclusion.  The students seemed happy.  So did a few faculty with a sweet tooth.

 


Acquaintances enrich my life in so many ways.  So do students, and the circus kids.


Fall Break and NYC cannot arrive quickly enough.


Teaching the Ernst Toch “Geographical Fugue” to my applied musicianship class may be the death of me, but we are going to lick this thing and have fun along the way!  (You should have seen them rapping this week.)


Is anything more fulfilling than teaching voice lessons?


I’m ramping up my expectations for several of my students, who are showing they are ready for more push.


The current president of the United States of America is one dumbass.  There.  The emperor has no clothes.  Someone said it.


I can’t wait to start cooking out of my new Moroccan cookbook!


Some days I miss having a dog.

England

Memories of various trips to England have been popping up on Facebook.  I am ready to visit again.

At the zoo

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.

 

Orangutan child.
Red panda.
Joe pets a stingray.

Kangaroos!
Laughing kookaburra
This one is just waiting for a lift from the train.
Lorikeets.