Thursday, March 8, 2018

Beauty and culture

Staying dry. 2:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, March 8, 2018. It’s still snowing as I write this Diary at 7:45 on Wednesday evening. It started about noon and came down heavily in spurts, and then by late afternoon it was snowing steadily and heavily. However, the earth is too warm to collect the snow. It covers the cars and the sidewalks but not enough to make a snowbank.

I mention these details because it has been a “warmer” winter – with Spring only 13 days away and the forsythia now blooming in Carl Schurz Park down the block. It’s been a perfect day to stay inside and keep warm and enjoy the beauty of the snow falling outside.
There had been a lull before the snow picked up with gale force about 5:15 p.m.
At 5:40 you could see the quick accumulation.
By 6 p.m., the snow had slowed and the roads were getting black with moisture again, instead of snowy ice.
However, it was Wednesday and I had a longtime lunch date with Maria Cooper Janis who brought me a CD of a concert that her husband Byron Janis gave in Leningrad (which is now again to St. Petersburg after the fall of the USSR) in 1960. Byron was the first American pianist sent to represent the US in the USA/USSR Cultural Exchange in 1960.

Click to order Byron Janis Live From Leningrad 1960
The CD is a re-mastered recording of the evening. Byron actually heard the recording for the first time only a few years ago. He wasn’t even aware that it had been made. But he recalled “when I first heard the sounds of Mozart, Chopin and Copland that I had played some 57 years before, it collapsed the years and brought back very wonderful moments and memories.

“To be visiting a city of such beauty and culture and then being able to be a brief part of its creative life was an extraordinary feeling.  Obviously, life in general on a day to day basis was certainly not easy for the citizens of that historic city. But love music they did, and I could not have wished for a warmer and more enthusiastic public after my performance.

“I was told that the space in which I performed was formerly the ballroom of the Czar’s palace. The acoustics were beautiful, sparkling like the room’s magnificent large crystal chandeliers that illuminated the hall which seated 2000. I closed my eyes and could feel transported back in time to that ballroom filled with music and lavishly dressed men and women dancing into the night.”

Byron did two concerts on that particular trip – one also in Moscow. The program was Mozart (3), Chopin (4), Liszt, Schumann, Aaron Copland, and closed with a piece by Manuel de Falla. To learn more, visit Byron’s website: www.byronjanislive.com
After that Maria and I talked about Los Angeles, mainly Hollywood talk. I told her that I’d been out at the end of January, for the first time in several years. Maria grew up out there, first in a house in Brentwood and then in Holmby Hills on Baroda when her mother and father Rocky and Gary Cooper built a new house designed by A. Quincy Jones. The house now belongs to Larry Gagosian.

Gary Cooper and daughter Maria in front of the Holmby Hills house on Baroda Drive.
The Coopers’ next door neighbors in those days were Bill and Edie Goetz, who were very close friends. Edie was the eldest daughter of Louis B. Mayer, and a real Hollywood princess who first moved to Hollywood when she was fourteen when her father started Mayer Productions which only a few years after merged with Metro and Goldwyn Productions, under the umbrella of Loew's Incorporated.

The house was purchased several months ago for $40 million by investor Nicholas Berggruen from its previous owner, Gary Wilson, who bought it from Edie’s estate in 1990 for $7.4 million. For more on Edie and the house on Delfern, click here.
"The Edie Goetz Estate. Available for the first time in over 25 years ..." as advertised by Hilton & Hyland in 2016.
More musical treats. This past Monday night the Young People’s Chorus of New York City was celebrating its 30th Anniversary with a gala concert “The Song I Sing” at Jazz at Lincoln Center. The YPC, as it’s called amongst its members and benefactors, was founded all those years ago by a Francisco J. Nunez, Founder, Artistic Director, and Conductor.

Mr. Nunez, besides being all those things, is a humanitarian. Adam D. Chin is the Chair. It’s Vice Chairs were Mr. Chin and his wife Linda Chin, Agnes Gund, Beatric Liu and Philip Lovett, Deborah and Jason McManus, Camila Pastor and Stephen Mishaan, Yesim and Dusty Philip, Beryl Snyder and Steven Trost, Beth and Brad Whitman..
The Company onstage and from their performing boxes above.
The "older" members of the company performing Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek."
I was first introduced to Maestro Nunez’ work a few years ago when a friend invited me to one of their concerts. Its members range from ages 6 and 7 to the teenage years. They come from all walks of life. Auditions are held to find the right members and combinations. The concerts are performed by the entire company as well divisions of ages. They are directed and choreographed by Jacquelyn Bird and accompanied by an All Star Orchestra conducted by Maestro Nunez.

That’s the blueprint so to speak. The result is a thrilling, brilliant, uplifting, moving and joyous concert with a repertoire ranging from the classics to Broadway to Michael Jackson and everything in between. That’s the picture. The voices in chorus whether in their own age range or altogether, are strong and beautiful. Watching the youngest (the smallest) who are in the front row will make you smile and laugh with joy at their serious yet newly youthful approach to the material and the choreography. Then you see the older groups move into sophistication and know-how and the fun of singing and performing a song professionally. From all of them you get enthusiasm and heart. In return, they get cheers and whistles and thunderous applause.
The upshot of confection is that the whole process is a training ground for children and young people. It is a moment when The World Is All Right With Us.

Connor Chun, age 7, member of the YPC, just before the concert.
What impresses me the most is seeing an organization provide them all with the opportunity to experience doing something well, working cooperatively with peers and generational contemporaries, and acquiring an early taste of the satisfaction of accomplishment. That’s the biggest thrill, because they are SOOOOO good. Their hearts are in it: and together with their voices, your souls they touch.

Monday night’s gala concert also were joined by special (grown up) guests: Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, Lester Lynch, Jenn Collela and Jordan Donica. With the YPC accompanying them. Thrills for everyone, on-stage and off.

We sat next to a woman whose 7-year-old son was a member of the YPC. You could see how proud she was that her boy was on his own learning the pleasure of accomplishment and working with others. There were probably scores, if not more of those stories in the theater that night. It was one of those nights when you could feel the pleasure and joy in the audience as they slowly and cheerfully moved from seats to lobby to the elevators. Bravo Young People’s Chorus of New York City!
Meanwhile, down in the town where it’s really been happening, Palm Beach, the Lighthouse Guild hosted its 10th Annual ‘Evening of Visionaries’ Dinner Dance at Club Colette. More than 180 guests were present to honor beloved mother-daughters philanthropic leaders, Grace Meigher, and her daughters Elizabeth Meigher and Amanda Meigher Mariner.  The evening also included a special Young Visionary Award presentation to Wyatt KochArlene Dahl served as Honorary Chairman. The Dinner Dance Chairmen were Thomas Quick, Frannie Scaife, Kit Pannill and Talbott Maxey, and the Young Visionary Co-chairmen were Michael Idy and Denise Fraile.
Elizabeth Meigher, Amanda Mariner, and Grace Meigher.
Lighthouse Guild is  the leading not-for-profit vision and healthcare organization dedicated to addressing the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired. Mark Ackermann, Lighthouse Guild Executive Vice President and COO, welcomed guests and introduced Dr. Alan R. Morse, Lighthouse Guild President and CEO, who spoke about several national initiatives to serve the growing number of people who are visually impaired in Palm Beach County.  
James Dubin, Grace Meigher, and Allen Morse.
Dr. Morse announced that Lighthouse Guild has begun working with FoundCare, a Federally Qualified Health Center, in West Palm Beach, FL to support the early identification of vision loss, provide vision screening equipment, and develop educational materials about early intervention and vision loss prevention.

He also announced that Lighthouse has partnered with local libraries to provide access to more than 600,000 books through Bookshare®, the world’s largest online library for people who are visually impaired, or have a physical disability, or a learning disability that interferes with reading.  www.Lighthouseguild.org
Marc Rosen and Juliana Terrian. Kit Pannill and Talbott Maxey.
Arlene Dahl and Shining Sung.
Kate Waterhouse and Wyatt Koch. Jerry Seay and Pauline Pitt.
Michael Idy and Denise Fraile. Frances Scaife and Tom Quick.
Michael Donnell and Candy Hamm.
Mario Nievera and Pam Fiori. Amanda Mariner and Mark Ackermann.

Photographs by CAPEHART (Lighthouse)

Contact DPC here.