Tag Archives: Webster University Department of Music

What’s left?

What’s left?

The carnage of a most dreadful year A.D. 2020 is past.

Or, as Michelle Cottle wrote this week in the New York Times, “This year was a soul-crushing hellscape of a dumpster fire. For sanity’s sake, large chunks of it should be repressed as soon as possible.”

Truth be told, this turning of the year is artificial. Nothing changes overnight just because we start a new month in a year that has one digit changed. But we measure our lives in this way, and so we will, and so I will.

So, the carnage is real. The year 2020 was a veritable beast. The most miserable year in my memory, and that of many others.

What’s left?

As I write, the finches are frolicking and foraging in the garden, so evident through my window above the sink.

And candlelight still illumines the darkness, a much-needed gift in this dark season of the year.

Neighbors and friends still exhibit kindnesses — a wave, a little gift of bran muffins, a “what do you need from the store?”, a perfectly-chosen little something at Christmas time.

Creativity yet abounds. The composer juices are flowing again.

Books are still faithful companions. Said E. B. White, “Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.”

The kitchen still beckons with promises of comfort and other forms of creativity.

Nelson still needs me as much as I need him.

And as of Monday, I have fewer than 150 days until I return full-time to the professoriate.

A new term with the Variety kids is in the offing, also starting on Monday, with new music to explore and new stories to be told.

And there are stories still to be told . . . stories of life and living, of dreams fulfilled, of dreams not yet fulfilled, of people and places.

There are still songs to be sung. To be learned and taught. Voices to be raised and trained. Oh, this gift of singing . . . . What a certain treasure it is!

Perhaps 2021 will be less carnaged, more filled with hope as opposed to doom and despair, a time of fulfillment. And creativity. And song. And love. And hugs.

May it be so.

Last Friday

It’s the last Friday of a crazy, surreal, somehow-we-made-it-through semester at Webster University.

I taught my 9 a.m. class on Zoom, opening with “Blue Christmas.” I’ll truly miss teaching these wonderful second-year musical theatre majors!

The day also includes auditions for new students, a faculty meeting, two voice lessons, and a quick trip to the office later today to do some scanning and grab a few movies from the library.

And later today, the class/lesson portion of Fall 2020 is in the books!

Random musings

I am writing on Saturday, one that is only my second Saturday completely free since Labor Day. The freedom manifests itself as luxury.

So I take long pauses in Morning Prayer at my home altar. I say extra prayers for those I love, those in need, those who are traveling. And I ponder how best to focus my year-end giving for maximum impact on immediate needs.

The Great British Baking Show is such a delight, no? Peter nailed it this week, with a handshake and a star baker.

Full disclosure: in the last couple of weeks I have rewatched the Nadiya and Tamal season, and also devoured Nadiya’s Time to Cook on Netflix, from the BBC. Her ‘egg roll’ has become a quick favorite.

I’m outsourcing Thanksgiving turkey this year, purchasing 12 pounds of smoked turkey from Kenrick’s. And some of their traditional stuffing.

Meanwhile, the obscene fricktard cheese puff in the White House fiddles and furies while Rome burns. In the last week alone, this country has progressed to 12 million confirmed COVID cases this year from the 11 million one week ago. This appears to be a virus out of control, and only a massive unified federal response can lift us out of the horrible winter to come. But His Orangeness cannot think of anything but grift and grab and trying to overturn a valid election through whatever mean he can. He himself is illegal, methinks.

At school we will actually have a full faculty recital this week, streamed on YouTube for a sense of occasion. We have 1.5 class weeks left, and then a week of finals, and this long, strange semester will be over.

I am increasingly hopeful that we will be back to normal early in the third quarter of 2021, perhaps by my birthday.

How quickly a dog can go from fresh-smelling to dog-smelling.

I made an apple galette on Friday, in the midst of lessons, class, a faculty meeting, a webinar, and a recruiting fair in Dallas (all on Zoom).

Granny Smith apples really do cook up very well.

As this is published, we will be in the Last Sunday of Pentecost, the end of the church year, Christ the King Sunday. Advent is but a week away.

My three-week beard disappeared on Saturday:

Random ramblings

I have a new mask for use when I’m at school and in the same room as others, teaching a class or teaching a lesson.

I shan’t be on campus all the time, but this mask will allow me to breathe more easily at least.

My HelloFresh adventure continues. This meal was a huge taste-bomb of happiness and spice and zestiness: panko- and Parmesan-crusted chicken cutlet (with sour cream to add a bit of bite, and hot paprika to add kick; plus roasted carrots tossed in lemon zest, and couscous with garlic and the whites of green onions.

Nelson spent two hours at the office on Saturday, since Queen Jean (my once and always best-ever assistant) and I were measuring rooms and putting down social-distance markers. He had a fun time running the very empty lobby of the Loretto-Hilton Center.

Those markers:

On Saturday, before heading to the office, I watched a live-stream of a concert by the choral group Ensemble Pro Victoria. The concert took place at St. Mary’s Bourne Street in London, the last church I attended in the UK two years ago on my most recent visit there.

The concert was wonderful, with music that I find deeply attractive.

The leader of the group is Toby Ward, who I met on a visit to Gloucester Cathedral in 2012 (I think that’s the right year). I was on a Howells research trip. Toby was singing tenor in the choir on a gap year before starting college. He complimented me on my glasses. And then the choir sang an all-Herbert Howells Evensong.

The squirrels know.  They know that winter is coming.  Damn squirrels!  Rooting in my window boxes….

This belated birthday present came from the Gregg family. I’m sporting it proudly on Mariele the Volvo:

Thanks to a very handy handy-man, I am now wired at home for two ethernet ports, one by my desk in my home office, and one by the piano.  I shall henceforth be hard-wired into meetings at home, rather than relying on wi-fi!

Social distance, day 54

On this 54th day of physical distance from others, and now having completed my last interview with students moving on to the third year of school, here’s a little poem about the “last day of school.”

And a screen shot of the setting of the last official 90 minutes of Spring 2020 on the last day of the semester.

Now for a steak dinner!

A thing

So I did a thing.

I recorded video greetings yesterday for various commencement- and honors-related projects.  The self-tapes took place in my office at home.

Nothing like getting into regalia whilst in lounge pants in University of Kansas crimson and blue, with a Jayhawk embroidered on the leg.

And no shoes or socks.

Nobody was going to see anything below the chest anyhow, right?

Screen captures:

A circle

From a Webster University student this week:

This morning I was looking through my bookshelf, and I opened one of my books that my dad gave me. He buys and sells books, and every once in awhile, he finds a book that he thinks will be useful to me for any reason and gives it to me. Usually, these are field guides or music teaching related.
I opened this book today and found this, and wondered if maybe you had owned this book at some point before me?
And indeed, the student had a copy of a book I took to Goodwill well over a year ago as I was purging my shelves at home and at the office!
Sometimes the universe sends signals.  I haven’t decoded this one yet, but I’m certain the signal is a good one.

Upside down

The world is turned inside out, upside down.

Broadway, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera. Closed for thirty days.

Webster University. Teaching on-line with no course meetings for at least three weeks.

Faculty. Forced to move courses on line, even though they never signed up for this.

Saint Louis. Banning all gatherings of 1,000 people or more for a few weeks.

The Fox. Closing for the month. SLSO calls off the Berlioz sound-orgy this weekend.

The NCAA. All remaining winter and spring sport tourneys are canceled this year.

MLB. Postponing the start of the season for two weeks.

NHL. MLB. MLS. All dark.

Variety Children’s Chorus. Stopped for the remainder of the program year.

Italy. Shut down.

European citizens entering the USA. Forbidden in the next few weeks.

Travel from China, South Korea, Italy, Iran. Forbidden.

Ireland. Closing all schools and universities for two weeks.

As of March 12, nearly 30 countries worldwide have closed all schools.

Apart from the grim human toll, the disruption to lives, the anxiety and fear this virus is inducing . . . apart from the fact that people I know and love are out of work because of this virus . . . the UN is now suggesting that the worldwide cost of this virus this year could be $2 trillion, and that a global recession is inevitable at this point.

The world is turned inside out, upside down.

Said John Donne —

No man is an island entire of itself; every man 
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine 
own were; any man’s death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom 
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.