Tuesday, May 31, 2011


They had no idea what was about to happen...75 singers, two grand pianos, crash cymbals, bass drum, a set of timpani and glockenspiel. It was a stunning event by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir at Indy's International Airport this past Saturday, timed to coincide with the arrival of thousands of race fans for the next day's 100th anniversary running of the Indy 500. Check it out!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's Official...

Rehearsing Mozart Requiem with the OJSC in 2008

... I'll be going back to Bolivia this summer to conduct Mozart's "Coronation" Mass! Some of you know I've been twice before; it'll be great to return and see the talented singers and instrumentalists I've come to know over the last few years.

My first trip to Santa Cruz de la Sierra (now having surpassed La Paz in population, SC is Bolivia's largest city...over 1 million inhabitants) came in 2005. Roland Schlieder is conductor of the Orquesta Juvenil de Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and an alum from Butler, where he studied conducting with me. Knowing of my (somewhat rusty) Spanish skills, he invited me down for that first visit to help him prepare his chorus for performances of Part One of Messiah. In that week of rehearsals, workshops and masterclasses, I was very impressed by the eager dedication to learning the singers demonstrated. And, they were a most friendly lot...treating me like a king, taking me to the best restaurants in the city, and making sure I felt welcome.

One of our many live tv interviews in 2008

I returned in 2008 to rehearse and perform Mozart's Requiem. With Roland's great orchestra, and a talented quartet of soloists (from Bolivia, Panama and the U.S.), and the great choral singers, we had a great experience together. Jon was even able to fly down for a few days and join us for some of the concerts.

So I'm looking forward to going back. I'll be there for nearly two weeks, so that will be my longest stay thus far. I'll teach masterclasses in conducting, voice and score study, in addition to leading rehearsals for the choir and orchestra. Now to start scraping off some of the rust from my Spanish!

Dining out with my Bolivian friends!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sondheim and Kennedy Center

Wrapping up a long weekend in DC...and a break from the rain! Got some needed yard work done (finally!).

Yesterday, we were lucky enough to get the last two tickets to the brand-spankin'-new production of Sondheim's "Follies" at the Kennedy Center. With a $4 million budget, this production has been purported to be the largest musical ever presented at KC, and possibly headed for NYC after its local 6 week run concludes.

Set in the early 70's, the story revolves around a reunion of former Broadway showgirls, who reprise their song and dance numbers, and revisit old yearnings and loves.

We loved the show. From beginning to end, everything was top notch. But nothing was more impressive than the glittering cast--Bernadette Peters, Elaine Paige, Jan Maxwell, Ron Raines, Linda Lavin (you remember the 70's TV show "Alice"?), Terri White...and on and on. They were terrific.
Elaine Paige

Among the great many numbers in the show are "Too Many Mornings," "Losing My Mind," and "I'm Still Here."

The set was hauntingly beautiful. One staged element that was particularly effective was the inclusion of theatrical "ghosts" that wore glamorous if faded glittering gowns...they slowly, silently skulked about the catwalk and periphery taking in the deeds of the "living" characters. In several production numbers, the ghosts shadowed the dancing of the real actors...a wonderful "split-screen" effect that left one to ponder the relationship between events some decades apart.

I found some great YouTube clips online of the 1985 concert production of "Follies" with Barbara Cook, George Hearn, Mandy Patinkin and Carol Burnett. You'll be glad you checked it out. Also, I need to give a special shout out to the very kind and understanding folks working the main box office at KC...I'll spare the details, but they very graciously got me out of an pickle of my own making...THANK YOU!

Jon takes in the view from the Kennedy Center Terrace. National Cathedral and Georgetown appear over his right shoulder.