Days and Nights at the Opera (Part I)
Winter has not wrought its harsh attack on Michigan, at least not yet. The closest it came was during the first week in March, when I had nothing to do. Safely nestled in my apartment, fake fireplace ablaze, I continued to cook a healthy lifestyle for myself, trying to cheat as little as possible.
In the meantime, there was one final subscription week at home. For two months I had to be replaced by substitutes. This time it was Jimmy Galway’s turn. Seems he had fallen down a set of stairs in Lucerne and broken both of his arms. Screws were put in to stabilize things and it looked like recovery would get him to Detroit in time for the March appearance. But a screw came loose (insert own joke here) and he simply could not be ready in time to support the instrument, subsequently resulting in his cancellation. We were all saddened, me for personal reasons as well as musical.
February may be the shortest month of the year, but perhaps because of the missing few days, it also feels like the busiest. I barely had time to think, much less take it easy.
The Detroit Symphony had been nominated for a Grammy with the album we made featuring Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer and Zakir Hussein. We lost to Yo-Yo Ma and Friends. This was not unexpected. But as usual, there were commentaries in the press regarding the lack of meaning for these awards. Yes, the process is laborious, and it is hard to justify some of the categories in which some recordings are placed. Personally, I mourn the elimination of the “Best Polka Album of the Year.” But ask anyone who has been up for one of these and you will find that they all feel honored to have been selected.
These are not usually words I have heard, or seen in print when journalists speak about me. But each of those terms appeared following my first appearances in Washington and Detroit. It made me wonder how I had really looked prior to the heart attack.
Hanukah is over, Christmas approaches. Since I am taking it easy for the next few weeks, it seemed like a good idea to write a bit earlier than usual. It also gives me the opportunity to give some unusual musical suggestions for last minute holiday giving, plus a short follow-up to that fake news release of a few months ago.
It is very rare for me to have an entire month free of conducting, much less two. Clearly the first one, this past November, gave me no choice, what with having the heart attack and recovering. But the surprise was how willing I was to let go and take the second month off for purposes of recuperating.