mojosmom: (Busy bee)
Last week was kind of Russian on the cultural front. I saw an excellent production of Uncle Vanya at the Goodman Theatre on Wednesday, and on Thursday I went to hear Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony perform an oratorio based on Prokoviev's music for Eisenstein's film, Ivan the Terrible. Both had me on my feet at the end, and I don't do that lightly. Also having me on my feet was Friday's Lyric Opera performance of Norma, with Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role. She's amazing.

Went to my book club yesterday. We had read The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America, by Ethan Michaeli. Very well-written, fascinating account of the newspaper, and very much a history of race in America as well. Michaeli, who worked at the Defender for several years, was present for our meeting (we often have area authors attend), and it was one of our biggest turnouts.

I've got a number of projects going. The Newberry Consort gala is next weekend, and I've been busy with that. I'm doing work for Wright+, coming up in May, and I've gotten involved in another project the Trust is doing, interviewing and writing about the founding volunteers. On top of that, I'm helping out the Library Committee at my club, cataloguing and culling books (seriously, who dumped a couple of dozen ratty volumes of the Loeb Classical Library on us?), and spearheading an event about Carl Sandburg (it's the 50th anniversary of his death this year).

So you can see why I chose the "busy bee" icon for this post!
mojosmom: (Gautreau)
Is everyone ready for the holidays?

I had pretty much all my shopping done, other than random, impulsive stocking-stuffer type purchases, or at least I thought I had! I have friends with whom I exchange gifts, and waaaaaay back in November I was at World Market and saw some nice mugs with initials. I decided to buy these but a couple of the initials I needed were on a high shelf, so one of the sales people got them down for me. "Give me two Ds and a C", I said. And I put them in the cart, paid for my purchases, which were nicely wrapped in tissue paper, went home, and shoved the bag in a closet. Fast forward to Thursday, when I decided to wrap presents. And discovered that I had two Cs and a D. I went back to World Market, and, of course, they no longer had anymore Ds. However, they say they'll get more in and will call me, and one of the people who has that initial won't be with us the day we do the exchange, so I have time. But I do wish I'd checked sooner!

Both my sisters arrive tonight, and we are making plans. We'll go to friends on Tuesday for the traditional gourmet mac-and-cheese, vespers at First Unitarian on Christmas Eve followed by our traditional latke dinner, and dinner with other friends on the 26th.

There have been a slew of parties this year - last Saturday I had two in one day, an afternoon open house and an evening dinner.

I've been to a couple of really good music performances lately. I mentioned in my last that I was going to hear Judas Maccabeus, and it was a rousing good performance! I've also been to Bel Canto, the opera commissioned by Lyric Opera based on Ann Patchett's novel. Really excellent, particularly when you consider that neither the composer, Jimmy Lopez, nor the librettist, Pulitzer Prize playwright Nilo Cruz, had ever written an opera before! Thankfully, they eliminated Patchett's ridiculous epilogue, which was a real clunker. The singers were splendid, particularly countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo as César and mezzo J'nai Bridges as Carmen. Loved the set and lighting as well.

Then I went to a recital with Patricia Barber and Renée Fleming, Fleming singing mostly Barber's music, arranged as art songs, with sometimes Barber and sometimes Craig Terry and sometimes both accompanying on the piano. Barber's quartet also played, and we did get to hear her sing, though not enough for my taste! They sang together as well, notably a bunch of Christmas songs. The only real failure was Fleming's singing of You Gotta Go Home. But it was a grand and successful experiment in joining jazz music and classical singing.

As part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the S.C. Johnson Company sponsored trips up to Racine for tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Administration Building and the Research Tower (recently opened for tours). They provided buses from the Chicago Cultural Center up to Racine and back. On most weekends, you also get to see Wingspread, designed by Wright for Hibbert Johnson and his family, and now a conference center. It's all free! So I did that last weekend, and it was a great treat. Kudos to the Johnsons for hiring Wright in the first place, and for appreciating what they have and sharing it.
mojosmom: (Default)
On Sunday, I went to the memorial service for Leon Despres (I wrote about his passing here. It was held at KAM Isaiah Israel, which I had forgotten was designed by Despres' father-in-law, the well-known Chicago architect, Alfred S. Alschuler. Among the eulogists were Abner Mikva, who represented Hyde Park in the state legislature and Congress, and was later a Justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C (and who, but for bad timing and Republican presidents, would likely have been named to the U.S. Supreme Court); Don Rose, political consultant extraordinaire; and Despres' law partner, Tom Geoghegan, a labor lawyer and author. They talked about Despres' work as a labor lawyer, thorn in the side of the establishment, civil libertarian and civil rights activist, a man who made Hyde Park the kind of neighborhood that attracted the likes of Barack Obama. Someone said he made it possible for us to have "the first president of the United States whose home abuts a reform synagogue"! (Slight error - it's actually across the street.)

The most moving eulogy, however, came from a woman who was a close family friend, and who eloquently described the seventy-five year love affair between Leon and his wife, Marian. They met as teen-agers, married in their early '20s, and were together until her death at age 97. It's true that one could hardly think of one without the other.

I'd parked a few blocks away from the synagogue, figuring (rightly) that the place would be crowded, and so stopped on the way back to take a few photographs of another neighborhood architectural gem, Frank Lloyd Wright's Heller House:
Heller House

In the evening, I went to the Checkerboard to hear Dee Alexander, who was having a CD release party. The joint was jumpin'! I couldn't park in the lot, which is unusual. Probably partly due to the crowd at the Checkerboard, but also because Dixie Kitchen is closing so a lot of folks are going for one last johnnycake. I stayed later than I intended, but that was okay, because she was great, so was the band, and I had a lot of fun. They announced the date for the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. It will be September 26. I'm looking forward to that, as always.

Last Italian class of the session was yesterday. She's just doing a six-week review over the summer, and I've decided to take a break so that I can enjoy the summer (if we ever get any warm weather!)

Got the results of my medical tests. Mammogram was normal, and while my bad cholesterol is a bit high, the doctor says it's just a matter of watching my diet, and besides, I've got plenty of the good cholesterol. So that's all good.

February 2017

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