Thursday, June 25, 2015

Otello, the Perfect Opera

Opera Just Isn’t What It Should Be These Days

     Patrick Dillon’s review of the video of Verdi’s Les Vȇpres siciliennes as performed at the Royal Opera House, which appears in the current issue of Opera News, was heartening to this opera lover. Mr. Dillon pretty well shreds  director Stefan Herheim’s “vision” of Verdi’s opera, and from what I’ve read and even seen, deservedly so.
     When I watched the YouTube video of the final scene of the opera, I found it ridiculous. Or outrageous. Or both. Not musically, of course; Mr. Dillon points out how well the singers and the orchestra performed, though he does fault Antonio Pappano, who as music director of the ROH allowed this nonsense to take place on the stage. Mr. Dillon goes so far as to recommend a twenty-five-year-old video of the opera in Italian in preference to this recent release.
     It’s just one more example of the disconnect in opera world in which the intent of the composer, heard so strongly in the music, is not reflected by what the audience sees on stage. Call me old-fashioned, and I will proudly accept the appellation. I’ll align myself with the composer against the ego of the “director” any time, and for good reason. Who wrote the opera, anyway? These men of the theater were not just putting pothooks on paper (as Giuseppe Verdi described what he did to set down the storm of miracles in his head).
     The first time I saw Offenbach’s opera Les contes d’Hoffmann was in the mid-nineteen-sixties at the Cincinnati Summer Opera. It was an English language production, starring two American singers who were also great actors, Beverly Sills and Norman Treigle. Julius Rudel conducted and Tito Capobianco was stage director.
     It was a great production. Sills played all three of Hoffmann’s love interests, quite a tour-de-force for any soprano, and she was incredible. Bass-baritone Norman Treigle was probably the greatest operatic performer I ever saw and he was brilliant. The opera was beautifully costumed, the sets were exceptional.
     Interestingly, no one referred to it as “Tito Capobianco’s Tales of Hoffmann.” It was duly noted that his directing skills certainly enhanced what the audiences saw on stage. My late husband was fortunate enough to be part of the cast as the first act doll maker, Spalanzani. He found Tito a sympathetic, energetic and passionate director who worked closely with Maestro Rudel to find what Offenbach had to say through his music.
     To the audience, it was very clear that Offenbach, the author of this work, was well served. With harmony among all forces, conductor, director, and performers, Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann became an exciting evening of theater and music. Opera as it should be.
     I’ve seen other productions of the work since, most notably some thirty years later at the Metropolitan Opera in the mid-nineties when Placido Domingo performed the role of Hoffmann as I had never seen it, bringing nuance and depth to the role through his glorious singing and fine acting. He was unforgettable, at the height of his career. The production was exciting. Each act was presented differently, with its own color. There was humor where it was appropriate. Watching the great Met chorus during the Olympia act was delightful and often very entertaining. The Giulietta act was enchanting and passionate, and Domingo’s voice soared. It was thrilling to hear him. There was tenderness, passion and tragedy, and some wonderfully chilling moments in the Antonia act, as there should be. It was a great evening.
     I went to a local cinema to view Les contes d’Hoffmann last season as one of the Met’s HD broadcasts. I’m sure it is apparent that I love the opera, and I was looking forward to seeing it again.
     I saw Bartlett Sher’s Les contes d’Hoffmann. I have seen this too frequently, the director’s vision somehow superseding the creator’s. I don’t like it. The director did not write the work. The director must have a keen understanding of the work, but that does not include “finding” something in the music and text that is not there.
     But what I saw was just that. It was well sung. There were some interesting moments on stage. There was far too much “busyness” – every opera has moments where the music should be paramount. It's opera. There was sometimes a disconnect between what I was hearing – the music was wonderfully performed ─ and what I was seeing, which seemed confused at times. It seemed the director felt a need to present what he was sure the composer must have meant to convey, such as having a stage full of Olympias twirling around during the Giulietta act. I do not hear that in the music, whether Offenbach actually wrote the septet or not. It was just distracting.
     I was disappointed, because I had read Mr. Sher recently directed a revival of The King and I which was very true to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical. At least, that’s what the reviewer indicated.
     Now I see that Mr. Sher is directing the opera I love most, Verdi’s Otello. It makes me a little nervous that Mr. Sher seems fixated on the Risorgimento. Yes, Verdi was a part of that; he was deeply affected by it, and he had an impact on the creation of a unified Italy. Otello was written years afterward, and Verdi had learned his lesson about putting nationalism into his work when he wrote possibly one of the weakest of his twenty-six operas, La battaglia di Legnano.
     Once unified Italy was a fact, Verdi did his finest work, and none of it smacks of “nationalism” – Aida, the Requiem, Otello, and Falstaff.  Sixteen years passed between Aida and Otello, when Arrigo Boito presented Verdi with the libretto he had been waiting for all his life. He and Boito poured themselves into this great opera. They worked together for years to make Otello as perfect as they could.
     I plan to go to my local cinema to see Otello during the upcoming Met season, and I hope very much that what I will see is Verdi’s Otello. It’s a masterpiece; in my opinion, along with that of many others, it is the greatest Italian opera ever written. Verdi took his time writing it, and it was exactly what he wanted it to be. Everything is in the text and the music. Please, Mr. Sher, just let Verdi show you what to do with this. Please don’t add or subtract anything from so perfect a whole.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"Cinderella" Times Three

The book-in-progress has a name! Drum roll:

Thirty-one Years Directing Community and High School Musicals

Thanks to my copy editor, Ashleigh Evans, for the great suggestion. When you read the book you’ll see how well the title fits. Here’s a hint in a condensation of the chapter on three productions of Cinderella. There’s much more in this chapter, but this is a taste of the “flavor” of the book – memories that are exciting, funny, and poignant. Many names are being named! Stay tuned.

Cinderella (1, 2, 3)
(1984, 1993, 1999)

     The idea of fairies as tiny creatures with gauzy wings is a recent one. In the ancient myths and legends, and until modern times, fairies were powerful, immortal beings of human size. “Fairy tales” such as Cinderella were stories in which these remarkable creatures and their magical powers played an important part.
     When Cinderella says to her Godmother: “I wish you believed that once in a while something marvelous and magical could happen,” and the Godmother replies, “I don’t say that I don’t believe that once in a while something marvelous and magical can’t happen,” they speak for all of us. The child in everyone can’t help but believe that sometimes, wishes really do come true, and “marvelous and magical” things can happen.
     Whatever it is that brings us all together for these performances has its own magic. You, the audience, are a vital part of this: without you, these performances would be little more than rehearsals. You are part of what makes each performance unique, and so you are part of that wonderful, fleeting experience, live theater.
     So enjoy the show – and help us bring the fairy tale magically to life!
Susan Jordan
Pocono Lively Arts (Stroudsburg High School)
December, 1984

     The note is from the first of three productions of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella presented by Pocono Lively Arts, each time at Stroudsburg High School. PLA, as we referred to our organization, was established in 1977 as a presenting organization for a series of musical and dance events. In 1979 we presented our first musical theater production as an addition to the regular series. The musical was quite successful and prompted us to continue to offer the community the opportunity to both participate in and attend a “family friendly” holiday show.
     This first Cinderella was the first time we ventured into the maze of leasing a show from a major rental house, and having to come up with money to pay for the royalties and rental fees for a show. (These must be paid in advance, at least by an amateur organization.) Until that time we had performed musicals we procured from a music publishing house, or a show that was in the public domain. But our shows continued to meet with success, and more and more people came for auditions. And more people volunteered their services for the myriad requirements of a stage musical, from playing an instrument in the pit orchestra to helping with costumes and makeup to building the set to ushering for a performance.
     The Sunday before show weekend the local newspaper (Pocono Record) featured us in the special entertainment section, “Passport,” including the cover and a number of photos on a two-page spread. The Friday the show opened, they gave us another large article with photos; and finally, a review of the production.  Our PLA productions were major community events. The population of Monroe County was less than 75,000 at that time; it is nearly twice that today.
     One of my favorite pictures in that Friday article shows Cinderella with her contingent of mice, four adorable children dressed in furry white body suits including hoods with mouse ears, their whiskers clearly visible. I added the mice; Rodgers and Hammerstein didn’t include them in the script for their made-for-television musical. I also added horses to pull the carriage ─ and a Children’s Chorus to follow the Herald around as he announced the forthcoming ball for the Prince, and later when he was trying to find the owner of the lost slipper.
     The audiences loved, loved, loved the mice! For years afterwards when PLA’s Cinderella came up in conversation, someone was sure to comment how much they had loved the mice. Disney got it right. When our Cinderella sang “In My Own Little Corner,” the mice came out of hiding to commiserate with her. Exclamations from the audience were audible. Our mice were really cute.
     One of the reasons we began performing holiday shows was to give children an opportunity to be on stage. I remembered how much I had loved performing in The Emperor’s New Clothes as an eighth grade student in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and wanted “our” kids to have that kind of experience. We included as many children in our productions as we possibly could. It always broke my heart that it was impossible to include every child who auditioned. The kids in the shows had the time of their lives. Many youngsters did the show every year beginning at the age of eight, often continuing through their high school years.
     The biggest challenge with the show was Cinderella’s transformation from household drudge to beautiful princess … in ninety seconds. Lighting is a great help. I love stage fog. A lot of fog works wonders. The mice and rats danced offstage, and the characters playing the necessary accoutrements  ─ horses, footman, coachman ─ danced on. The coach was challenging but great fun for our set designers, and beautiful to behold. An army backstage took off Cindy’s rags and replaced them with a beautiful gown, swept up her hair, added jewels and shoes and … presto! There she was, pulled from the fog and brought downstage by her Godmother. The audience applauded this transformation at every performance. The imaginative and exciting music that accompanied this magical feat was also a great help. Stage magic is great fun to make – when it works. I always held my breath, but it worked unfailingly for us.
Cinderella is a happy show. The wedding is a lump-in-your-throat, if not a tears-in-your-eyes moment for everyone.

    I earlier mentioned the four little mice whose picture was in the newspaper in costume in our first Cinderella production in 1984. Three of them – Andrew Kowalyshyn, Chris Bond, and Marjorie Lawler ─ were still around for Cinderella #2 in 1993, and Chris and Marjorie performed in the show. Andrew had become a very fine sound technician, even as a high school student, and was running sound for the show – more about Andrew later in the book. See Song of Norway for a moment I will never forget.
     The fourth mouse, Donna Schweinberg, had grown into a lovely young woman, and was also to be in the production. Tragically, Donna was killed in an automobile accident shortly after the cast was announced. Everyone involved with the show, and all of the members of PLA, chose to dedicate the production to Donna’s memory, and these comments were included in my director’s note for that production:

     When we presented Cinderella in 1984, there was a sweet little mouse on stage named Donna Schweinberg. This year, Donna’s senior year at Stroudsburg High School, we had hoped she would once again join us. As sometimes happens, fate decreed otherwise and Donna’s young life was sadly ended just before we began rehearsals. The cast and production staff of Cinderella, and the Board of Directors of Pocono Lively Arts would like to dedicate this production to Donna and her family, in memory of that sweet mouse who had grown to become an exceptional young woman, much loved by her family and friends.
     Cinderella is a happy story, the kind we love to experience again and again. We all feel that Donna and other members of the 1984 cast who have gone on (Mary Jane Snyder, Hilda Vanderslice) would like being remembered in this special way, at this special, magical time of the year.

My memories of our three productions of Cinderella will always remain special and magical.

 Cinderella 1993
Judy Lawler, Kelly Foley, Paula Rivera
Photo by Rose Karlson

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Eli's Heart, a novel

5-star reader reviews: 
They used to call them Blue Babies, the children born with a heart condition that dominated every aspect of their lives, lives which were never long. The central character in Susan Moore Jordan’s exceptional book Eli’s Heart, Eli Levin, born with Tetralogy of Fallot, gave his heart away instead of giving in to his heart. He fell in love with music as a child and as a teenager fell in love again, this time with the woman who years later would become his wife. Eli’s and Krissy’s path is more than a love story; their life together is filled with music, hope and raw courage. The characters of the stubborn, lovable, brilliant Eli and the wistful, loving Krissy are beautifully drawn and the music descriptions are expertly wrought by a writer/musician (there is a discography at the end of the book.) Eli’s story is fiction, but it was inspired by the remarkable story of an actual musician. - June 30, 2014

A wonderful tale of love, courage and music. The reader is carried through a relationship that overcomes some very big obstacles. The interpersonal relationships of family and friends is presented with such heartfelt sincerity that the reader is drawn into the story line, feeling all the emotional highs and lows of the characters. The accuracy of the medical and musical references add credibility and a deeper dimension of emotional involvement to the reader. I loved this book and would recommend it to all. - August 4, 2014

When I read novels, I'm looking for strong characters I care about and a good story. "Eli's Heart" has spades! You're rooting for Eli and Krissy from the beginning, as they draw you into their lives. And it's such a fascinating world they live in: talented young people making their way up through the world of classical music. The music they love enriches their story, and the formidable obstacles they face keep you riveted through to the end of the book. It's a beautiful love story. - August 13, 2014

Excerpt from Eli’s Heart

     Before his final lesson in the afternoon he knew he was in trouble. He was having pain across his chest and in his neck and his heart was racing. He knew he needed to get to the hospital immediately. He didn’t want to frighten his student, a freshman boy named Jamie. “I’m so sorry, Jamie,” he said as calmly as he could. “Something’s come up I have to take care of immediately. I’ll try to make up this lesson next week.”
     Eli’s plan was to get to the street, hail a cab and get himself to the hospital, but that didn’t happen. He walked out of his studio and started to close the door, but the horizon tipped crazily and everything faded. He heard the voice of one of his students shouting too loudly and frantically for this to be a lesson – or a dream. Through the fear and pain he had one clear thought: I never want Krissy to be as scared as I am right now.
     Krissy was in Aaron’s office going over lists with him when the phone rang, and the staff member who picked it up took the message. She tapped on the door and said as gently as she could, “Krissy, Eli’s being taken to the hospital. He collapsed at the school. I’m so sorry, I wish there were a better way to tell you.” Krissy sagged against the desk and Aaron stood quickly and put his arms around her to support her.
     “Get my car here immediately. Immediately,” he snapped. Krissy was white as a sheet and looked at Aaron with fear and pain in her eyes. He helped her with her coat and put his own on as they ran to the elevator.
     She whispered, “He could be dying.” Aaron’s car was waiting at the curb when they stepped off the elevator, and they ran through the lobby and onto the sidewalk. Aaron’s driver pulled away quickly.
     Krissy clung to Aaron as they drove. “Ever since I married Eli, I’ve known this could happen. Do you know what I think to myself sometimes that I can never say aloud to him? ‘Please don’t die, Eli. Don’t ever leave me.’” She started to cry. “No, I can’t cry, I can’t. I have to be strong. I don’t want Eli to see how terrified I am.”
    When they reached the hospital ER entrance she ran inside, identified herself and asked where Eli was. She ran into the examining room where Eli was lying, hooked to a frightening number of tubes and wires.
    He had been given a mild sedative and seemed calm. He looked at her and smiled. “I’ll be okay,” he said softly.
    She was shaking, but tried to control herself and smile back at him as she went to the bed and rubbed his arm. Everyone in the room seemed remarkably calm to her. She looked at his heart monitor and it seemed as if her own heart stopped. It was all over the place. How could they be so calm? Her husband could be dying.
     “Can I stay here with him?” Why were they waiting? They should be taking him into surgery right now. How could they possibly wait? In spite of herself she looked at his heart monitor again. It looked even worse.
     “For a while. We want to be sure he gets a good night’s sleep and is more relaxed.” Someone brought a chair for her to sit on so she could be close to him. She held his hand and rubbed his arm. There was an IV in his other hand. There was so much she wanted to say to him, but the medical people seemed busy with checking all the equipment and what she had to say was private, between them.
     Eli looked at his wife, wishing he could say something that would help her. He could see how distraught she was. The sedative had calmed him. He said again, “I’m going to be all right, Krissy.” She gave him a shaky smile. He wanted to take her in his arms and comfort her, but that wasn’t possible.

cover design by Tristan Flanagan

Eli's Heart is available on Amazon, Kindle and Paperback. Here's the link:

Sunday, June 7, 2015

In Celebration of Opera Singers

“Tradition” Doesn’t Equate to “Stagnant”

     There are those in the world of opera today who consider presenting a “traditional” staging of a work the equivalent of being a “museum curator.” My reaction to this is that these people do not understand anything about opera.
     Opera is a vibrant, living art form. It takes place only when all the elements are put into motion as the composer intended. First and foremost, these men of the theater – Mozart, Verdi, Puccini among them ─ had a great appreciation for the human voice, that most perfect of instruments. No other instrument speaks to the listener as the voice can; and in order to sing opera, singers put themselves through many years of dedicated, difficult, strenuous, sometimes heartbreaking training. They make sacrifices as few people do. They live to sing.
     For over thirty-five years, I have worked with probably hundreds of people who wanted to improve their singing voice, and I can say this with authority: every voice is unique. I tell my students early on, “Your instrument is your entire body.” It’s actually more: it’s mind, body, and that third element which I refer to as soul. The mind helps them understand their instrument, which is produced through muscular control; but it is the soul which makes the voice soar, which makes the listener respond by striking something in his own soul, or heart, or whatever you want to call it.
     This is the instrument which was vital to the composers of opera, obviously. For the most part, they understood the singing voice and what they could ask of it. This is why those of us who love opera want to hear it as much as we can; far better to hear it live, but we’ll settle for televised streaming, live radio broadcasts, or recordings. Anything to appreciate and be transported by those glorious voices and these magnificent works of art.
     Here’s something else you can take to the bank: no great singer ever sings a song exactly the same way twice. Every time she sings it, something is bound to be at least slightly different – maybe a longer tenuto on this note, maybe an earlier diminuendo on that phrase. Because the great singers are always exploring the music, always finding something new to incorporate.
            Also, as singers mature their voices undergo changes. Because of this, they find they are singing the same role in a slightly different way – often with more ease. Being a singer is a constant work in progress. The greatest singers never stop learning and trying to perfect everything they do.
     And because of that alone, no opera performance, even with the same cast, is exactly the same as the one before. There are other variables: the conductor may vary a tempo slightly, simply because he’s human. He may feel it just slightly differently than he did three days earlier. He may not have had a good night’s sleep. It will be almost imperceptible, but it won’t be a carbon copy of the previous performance. That is not humanly possible. Because it’s a live performance, who knows what might happen. That element alone serves to create some excitement.
      All his life, Giuseppe Verdi – who knew he was born to write operas – strove for the production of just one of his works that would approach the vision he had. He finally achieved that, at age eighty, with Falstaff, when the Scala in Milan acceded to all his demands. Not requests. He was finished asking. If the Scala wanted to perform Falstaff, it had to be his way or not at all.
     With the opera he wrote before Falstaff, Otello, he finally had the libretto he had longed for all his life. Arrigo Boito, genius that he was, provided him with a libretto of sheer poetry. The first production of Otello was the best Verdi had ever realized to that point, and he thought it would be what he’d have to be satisfied with – not knowing that Boito would do it one more time.
     To state the obvious, Otello is a masterpiece. Some of the most powerful, most passionate music ever written is heard in this work. In Boito and Verdi’s hands, Iago’s villainy is even more pronounced than it is in Shakespeare. Otello trusts Iago, whose jealousy and hatred of Otello have twisted him. Possibly Boito’s addition of Iago’s “creed” defines him as an inherently evil person; Shakespeare hints at that. Whatever the reason, or reasons, Iago’s sole aim is to destroy Otello. His course of action is to plant seeds of doubt in Otello’s mind about his wife Desdemona’s faithfulness, thereby causing her death and Otello’s downfall.
     We know the story … Iago succeeds brilliantly, and Verdi and Boito give Iago his moment of triumph. At the height of one of the most breathtakingly beautiful ensembles Verdi ever wrote, Otello destroys all … the music, his marriage, himself. He falls to the floor unconscious (Shakespeare attributes it to epilepsy) as the offstage chorus thunders: “Eviva! Eviva Otello! Gloria al leone di Venezia!” (Long live Otello! Glory to the lion of Venice!) And Iago – according to the composer’s stage directions “standing erect and, with a loathsome gesture of triumph, points to the inert Otello” – sings “Ecco il leone!” (Behold the lion!)
     That’s pretty much the plot. How it can be twisted and misunderstood by some self-styled “directors” amazes me. One man’s mad desire to destroy another.
     The complexity and sheer brilliance of the music, the continuous movement of the plot, the extraordinary singers performing this, all the elements of opera at its best mean this work comes to life vividly on the stage, time and again. Yes, it can be performed a little differently. In just the scene I briefly described, “A loathsome gesture of triumph” certainly is open to interpretation. How does Otello fall? Is it apparent he’s had a seizure or not? How does Iago react to hearing the cheers of the crowd offstage before he delivers his scathing line?
     Each singer in this opera will have his own understanding of whatever character he is portraying, and each singer will bring a part of himself to his performance. A part of his soul.  In the hands of great singers and actors the opera will always – always – be fresh, exciting, engrossing, thrilling, moving. The audience will hate Iago and weep with Otello. 
     And I feel sorry for people who fail to understand this.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Music Is Enough for a Lifetime

… but a lifetime is never enough for music. – Sergei Rachmaninoff

I went to a concert yesterday. No, a real concert, where I heard a nearly seventy-piece orchestra perform Verdi and Bach and Barber and Sibelius. And play them well.
     What was unusual about this was that these musicians were all high school students, and I live in a small town. The Pocono Youth Orchestra has been in existence since 1987 and I regret that I haven’t made a point of attending more of their twice yearly concerts. And I have to admit the primary reason I went yesterday was because one of my voice students had been given the opportunity to perform a solo on the concert.
     There was a wonderful sense of decorum throughout the program. The orchestra was in standard concert dress. They entered the stage with the same respect and poise as every symphony orchestra I’ve ever heard, and that includes the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
     There was great respect for what they were doing, performing works that have been heard and loved world-wide for generations. There was also a passion for what they were doing and I believe a true appreciation for this incredible music. I was reminded how much music I have never heard, and how much I’m not familiar with ─ and I was privileged to attend a very fine music conservatory. And that was decades ago; I’ve been listening for a lot of years.
     I was very moved by this concert. Hearing the “Triumphal March and Ballet Music” from Verdi’s Aida touched me personally because I’m re-reading an excellent biography of the composer – Orpheus at Eighty by Vincent Sheean. Opera is my passion, and recent happenings in “opera world,” especially in Europe, have concerned me.
      Next on the program was a novelty: a percussion quintet playing “The Rhythm of Figaro.” A percussion-only arrangement of the overture to Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Clever and engaging, and expertly performed (and also, more opera!).
     This was followed by an arrangement by my violinist friend Christopher Souza of the first movement of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No 6. Two soloists were featured; the cellist, Sophia Rostock, I had known as a young child when she attended a Musical Theater Summer Workshop I co-directed for over twenty years. The viola soloist was Emily Geiger. These young women performed extremely well.

Pocono Youth Orchestra photo

     A violinist named Joseph Snyder (a student of Chris’s) played – beautifully – the first movement of Samuel Barber’s violin concerto. If anyone had ever asked me if Barber wrote a violin concerto I would no doubt have replied, “Probably.” It seemed highly likely, considering how skillfully he wrote for strings, but I had never heard this work, or even heard of it.
     My student Steven Visceglia, a tenor, performed a Schubert song, “Die böse Farbe” with piano. He sang beautifully, with sensitivity and confidence (he loves Schubert), and his accompanist was very skilled. Amy Zhang played a very difficult accompaniment extremely well.
     For fun the orchestra played selections from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Phantom of the Opera. I would guess this may well have been the favorite piece on the program for many of the young instrumentalists, and it was certainly a treat for the audience.
     Before the final selection, Jean Sibelius’ tone poem Finlandia, the twenty-two young men and women who are graduating from high school within the next weeks were acknowledged and presented with flowers. The years each one had been part of either the PYO or the “feeder” group, the Pocono Junior String Orchestra, were announced. Some have been part of this organization for eight years, generally four years with the PJSO and four with the PYO, where students must be in high school in order to qualify. And oh, yes, this orchestra … both orchestras … require an audition for membership.
     Each of the seniors was also acknowledged in the printed program with a photograph and a bio. The featured soloists were also given more lengthy articles in that program, and there were wonderful posters in the lobby for each of them. Large posters ─ I would guess 24x36. They added to the sense of the importance of the event and that, for the weekend, this was not a high school auditorium but a concert hall. They were impressive, and I’m including a picture I took of Steven’s. The copy above his photograph is I believe the same information that was included in the program.
     My hat is off to Anthony and Audrey Simons, who  have been Music Director and Assistant Music Director of this group for many years. Fine musicians and educators, they not only have introduced these young people to great music, but to the great tradition of decorum and respect for our art.
     As I said … I attended a concert yesterday.