Well, that was quite a hiatus … !

Greetings!

In case you’ve forgotten, I left you next to the Christmas Tree on December 21! Now it’s January 25, 2017 and much has happened! After Alek, Daniela, and Eva headed for Christmas in Houston, we had a wonderful Yule Celebration with Dorothy and the Latvian branch of the family. Dorothy stayed for the New Years festivities and then we went back into empty nest mode! Obviously given the bulk of my compositional ouvre, Christmas and the Winter Solstice holiday time is very special for us. Added to that was the birth of Alek on Christmas Day in 1981! However, since I haven’t had a church music post for several years now, the holiday has become somewhat private to us which actually makes it all the more special. I carry on my personal tradition of listening to the King’s College Lessons and Carols live every year. I do pull out recordings of some of the Christmas Concerts from my Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Northwestern Oklahoma State choirs. And, of course, those magical holiday services we produced at First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland where I served for 17 years! I cannot complete my holiday without listening to Gil Hellwig’s splendid recitation of the biblical Christmas Story. All those things happened this year. I also accumulated some ideas for new Christmas compositions which will go into the hopper for future endeavors. I’m still hopeful that Colla Voce will consider publishing my Watchman Tell Us of the Night and I Saw Three Ships for next year. You can read about them in an earlier post.

Let’s do a roundup of the categories:

Author Stuff –

It gives me a touch of melancholy to announce that I have suspended my activities as a writer of mystery novels! Nick Flemons and Adrian Stone will be in a state of suspended animation for the foreseeable future. They have become victims of time, or rather, lack thereof! I really wanted to sink my teeth into authorship as a logical companion to my avaricious reading habit. Alas, the lacunae between writing sessions became wider and wider until the momentum was lost. I still hope to return to see where my two acquired friends go and whether they are successful in their crime-fighting solutions, but, for now, I must bid them farewell.

Reading Stuff –

I am well into the Winter TBR List by now. I will probably finish before the March 21 deadline. So far, I have enjoyed anew the adventures of Parish & Richards (Ellis – Dominion of Darkness), The Pot Thief studying Escoffier (Michael Orenduff), a brilliant Jack Reacher (Child – Night School), Bruno, the French policeman (Walker – The Children Return), Gregor Demarkian (Haddam – One to Grow On), and currently I’m about to finish a new adventure with Inspector Bill Slider and his team (Harrod-Eagles – Body Line). Only one more on deck and that’s another UK Inspector, Alan Banks (Robinson – Innocent Graves).

I’ll illuminate the Spring 2017 TBR List in a future post. I hope you will consider reading along with me. There are some really good new books coming from some of my favorite authors – stay tuned!

Composing/Recording Stuff –

I am into the third edit of my “Really Short Opera” – Frogs Always Get You in the End. You can see and hear a production over on my opera page. The reason for the slight revision and new edition is that I will be recording and conducting it at the end of April in Boston. This will be under the auspices of PARMA Recordings and I, with them, am trying to collect enough recording minutes to develop an entire Shrader CD. I have really drilled deep into the eight minute piece and paid attention to every nuance on the written page. The marvelous story/libretto is by Professor Ian Ruthven. We have yet to choose the instrumentalists and singers, but we will begin that process as soon as I can complete the editing and prepare the piano-vocal score. It’s very exciting and I’m thrilled to be working with PARMA again!

I’m also working on some choral things for the Georgia Ambassadors of Music Choir, a group which I hope to lead and conduct a bit on the 2018 European Tour. More about that later …

Travel/Opera/Family Stuff –

Well, you know about Alek’s Japan visit (Cosi fan tutte) and Daniela’s Fort Lauderdale jaunt (Carmen). Now we’re off to Minnesota where Alek is singing Endimione in Martin y Soler’s Diana’s Garden with Minnesota Opera. We leave very early on Saturday morning and we’ll see two performances. Then we’ll join Alek and fly to New York to be with Daniela as she makes her Metropolitan Opera debut in Dvorak’s Rusalka. We’ll be in the house for opening night (always very exciting at the Met). I’m also really looking forward to hearing the Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais in the title role. To sound out this family musical adventure, the next night we’ll get to hear Dorothy sing with the Westminster Choir in the Rachmaninoff Vespers. Of course, the highlight of our NYC days will be the quality time spent with our darling Eva! The adorable munchkin just passed her nineteenth month. She’s been in  New York with Dani and Dorothy and we’ve had many, many facetime sessions, but there’s nothing like the real thing!  I can’t wait …

There’s a lot more opera/travel/grandpa stuff coming later in the year, but that’s for another post.

Real Estate Stuff –

It’s quite an escalation and education as I learn this new (I’m certainly not retired any more!) phase of my remarkable life. Aija has been an incredible mentor! I have been taking videos, showing houses to prospective buyers, and I actually have a listing! Getting me up and running with all the necessary accoutrements has been a time-intensive activity, but it’s starting to fall into place. It looks like I really will be able to pad my social security and pension allotments and continue to be a contributing member of the family! If you want to see my listing, click HERE. (BTW – Wanna buy a house?)

Conclusion –

Well, friends I’ve reached the 1000 word limit I set for myself in these tomes, so, until next time, I wish you all the best for a blessed and prosperous 2017. Please tell your friends about this website and like or leave a comment. See you on this page in a few weeks!  Cheers!  -Jim

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