• Christmas at 85 degrees may have seemed somewhat out of place, and untimely, but nevertheless, welcome — a holiday looking for a place to land.
• My background as an opera singer seemed preordained: with my pianist mother playing for me many fine songs for whatever after dinner guests were in our living room. After some five years in Naval uniform, I landed in San Francisco and decided to devote myself to professional singing. Both b.w. and I made professional singing careers in the U.S. and/or Europe.
Such a life has brought me friendship with many notable cultured people, and even led to marriage to my talented b.w.
At our house it has been our custom and pleasure to have a party at Christmastime built around carol singing and other music of good cheer. On the afternoon of Dec. 19, the gala shindig at our home was a splendid social and musical affair.
Some 50 guests sang carols and then individual voices sang various kinds of music. With prodigious pianist Lynn Peghiny at the keyboard all singers were felicitously accompanied with superb support. The program’s post-carol selections began with baritone David Martin singing “The Christmas Song,” soprano Kathryn Kilger delivered the requisite “Silent Night,” tenor Jose Velez performed “O Holy Night” and several other selections, some of which he sang in Spanish, with his talented guitarist pal Luis Garcia. Baritone Gabriel Preisser rendered an affecting “Gesu Bambino.” Talented saxophonist Randy Russell treated us to a nifty jazz version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” The afore-going all won applause from a highly pleased audience that included U.S. Congressman John Mica and his lovely wife Pat, and Winter Park High School Principal Timothy Smith.
• Yep, I spent my early days at Winter Park High School and I have always had a warm spot in my heart for this town. Since WWII and other such troublesome interruptions, I have spent much time singing in European metropolises where great music — opera in particular — is always a highlight on the public’s bill-of-fare. This fact has caused me to do some rather strange things such to as learn “Carmen” and “La Boheme” in four languages. I have often said I would sing an opera in Chinese if I were hired to do so. Thank God, no takers as yet! If you enjoy making yourself the object of curious conversation, try to match that madness.
• My sister writes me that her children wrote a 257-page book about her life, bringing her much pleasure. Not all children are so thoughtful — a lovely thing to do.
• They used to say, “If you ever lived here in Winter Park, make no mistake about it, you will come back,” and, in our case, they were right. My b.w. and I hadn’t lived here very long before we had made more friends than we probably had left behind in New York. They are good friends and we are very fortunate to have them. We brought a few cultural concepts from New York —i.e. we intended to add our own ideas to life here — which we have done. The reception has been warm and we continue to enjoy life here with gratitude.
• Every year brings its good and unhappy events. That is the life of human beings on this planet. Let’s all strive to “accent the positive, eliminate the negative, and not mess with Mr. Inbetween!” As the new year unfolds, we begin to live in a future that has yet to be experienced. We wish all our friends a good year and thank them for their best wishes. 2016 is a time which could bring us untold happiness as well as stark tragedy. The ball is in human hands and each one of us has a small contribution to make to the future we shall be living. We wish everyone in the world everything good, but we must, alas, realize that we wouldn’t have nut houses if we didn’t have the nuts to put in them. People are the authors of all our history books: the characters in the endless novel we call “life.” Human history is a weird tangle. That said, “Buona fortuna” in the new year.