The spring months were a flurry of musical performances, festivals and concert series hosting: Cathedral Brass, National Concert Band, Ars Nova Chamber Orchestra -- not to mention a handbell massed-ringing event in Richmond.
On Easter weekend it was my pleasure to meet Megan, the wife of Airman Clayton Bender, to whom I served as a mentor of sorts during his days as a high school saxophonist and percussionist. I was reminded of how quickly young people mature during a stint in the military, and it was a pleasure to enjoy a meal and visit with a young couple who have their entire future ahead of them.
On a sad note, my friend Karen's partner Marshall succumbed to cancer after five difficult months of treatment. During the time Karen was visiting his relatives shortly thereafter, I hopped up to NYC, where she and I passed a splendid afternoon at the Morgan Library. This was my first visit since the original Italianate structure had undergone a recent top-to-bottom refurbishment.
In late May I was pleasantly startled by my mother's sharp memory, as she related stories of my youth (flattering and otherwise) during a trip to Winchester, where we used to go on shopping excursions in the 1950s and 1960s, before the age of enclosed shopping malls. She helped me recall entire divisions of lost memories, such as the fact that I would spend an entire half day at G&M Music perusing piano music while the rest of our brood bought clothes. These days the main shopping street has been turned into a handsome pedestrian mall.
I rounded out the month by participating in recording sessions with a baritone and soprano, yours truly on piano. The next day it was my privilege to work with the fine Russian cellist Miron Yampolsky.
In June I made a recording of piano and organ duos with local pianist Amy LaCivita and left the very next day to escort two dozen senior citizens (Rob well excepted) on a three-day excursion to Staunton. Thanks to Rob's technical expertise (he converted two VHS format silent films of William Haines to DVDs), our motorcoach was transformed into a 1920s era movie palace for screenings of Brown of Harvard and West Point. Who knew Joan Crawford also starred in silent films? The house in Staunton in which Haines was born still stands. We tore up the town, known as the Queen City of the Shenandoah, patronizing restaurants, cocktail lounges, movie theaters, taking in a performance at the fine Blackfriar's Shakespeare Theater (below), touring the Woodrow Wilson birthplace and toddling our way through the town as I led several architectural walking tours. We finished in style as Rob and I drove the group through the Museum of Frontier Culture grounds on two 8-seater golf carts. Spirits were high, and I mean that literally, as I am always astonished at how much alcohol assists in helping our valued seniors get through the day. This was a group of mostly Presbyterians, and I think they were trying to make up for the practice of substituting grape juice for wine in celebrating communion. The other thing that astonishes me is how much money they spend. Remind me to have a serious talk with my mother.
The next thing I knew, the summer solstice was upon us.