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Due to yesterday’s delay we missed our first evening performance.  However, that was a sold out concert with 1500 patrons so the presenter asked if we could do a 5:30 show and a 7:30 show tonight to accommodate those from the previous night.  There was some discussion about if the kids were up for 180 minutes of singing, but we decided we’d give it a try.  After a sound check we were ushered into a smaller theater and introduced to a local children’s choir and their parents.  Each of their children brought a unique gift to exchange with our boys to welcome them to their city.  I had not anticipated such a wonderful reception with such genuine warmth.  The boys were treated like honored guests and loved being the center of the attention.

When we arrived at the theater they showed me to my private, VIP dressing room.  I can certainly get used to this treatment.

A promotional post card sent out to patrons in Changsha

As we toured the space a Chinese man came up to me and handed me a stack of post cards.  On the postcard was an older picture of the TBC.  He pointed to a handsome boy in the picture and asked where he was.  I was overcome with pride as I realized that he was pointing to a picture of my son, Max.  I did not expect to have a proud parent moment on this trip since my son is no longer a part of the TBC, but I was completely overwhelmed with emotion as I thought of my son back in the US.  The theater mailed tons of these postcards out to their patrons and, according to this man, everyone wanted to see this specific boy when the TBC came.

Truth be told – I wanted to see that boy too.

My return to China

Ellie Lin at the Piano
My son, Max was a member of the Texas Boys choir for five years. His time with the TBC unlocked a world of musical artistry that very few people may ever know. I am deeply indebted to his directors, Mr. Bryan Priddy and Ms. Ellie Lin for teaching him to strive for an extremely high level of musicianship. Along the way he also learned a great deal about being a part of a community of musicians. These years are more precious to him than almost any other experience and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. It has shaped him into who he is.

On a couple of occasions during his time with the TBC, I was able to come and play piano for the ensemble which offered me a front row seat to observe how this very special ensemble operates. This also allowed me to become very close to both Mr. Priddy and Ms. Lin.

Max and his friends on a break.
A year ago, when his voice began to change, his time with the TBC concluded with an amazing tour to Germany. It is a huge understatement to say that this ending and transition into a different singing ensemble was an emotionally difficult one for the entire family. When Max aged out it also seemed that my time with the TBC had also come to a close.

Max and I were very sad to hear of Mr. Priddy’s resignation shortly after spring break this year. His hard work and dedication to the TBC provided countless memories for Max and his departure would surely be a huge blow to the boys.  Ellie stepped in to fill his shoes in the directors position which left the seat at the piano vacant for their upcoming month long tour to 16 venues in China.

When Ms. Lin contacted me and asked if I’d be available to join her, it was incredibly bittersweet for me. Of course the opportunity to tour China with a world class ensemble and with a musician of her caliber was a once in a lifetime chance and a huge honor for me. However, to go without Max is heartbreaking to say the least. However, Max was incredibly supportive as was my wife, Mary.  They encouraged me to say yes and find a way to make this happen. 

Although my duties as a high school choir director are minimal in July, I still have 4 services to sing and play for at First United Methodist church each Sunday as well as a summer musical to music direct at Brookhaven College in Dallas. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to sneak away from these commitments, but both institutions were overwhelmingly supportive in my seizing this opportunity to travel. Peggy Graff and Robert Stovall at the church were able to find pianists to cover for me there and wished me well on my journey. As for the summer musical – I was lucky enough to have a great friend and musical soulmate willing to take on the enormous task of playing and musical directing the show for me. I told director, Darise Error that my friend Debbie Pesnell and I share a musical brain and I truly believe she would do an amazing job picking up where I left off. It was a true act of faith and good will on her part to allow me to make this arrangement.

With all these loose ends tied up, I was finally able to say yes and sign on for this unforgettable opportunity to perform all over China.

I am incredibly excited and can not wait to see what unfolds.

Musical Elision

On March 6th, conductor Hans Grim and sixty plus talented friends and family will present choral works of Whitacre, Lauridsen, Elgar and more. The concert will also feature a jazz combo and solo piano performing works by Adam Guettel, William Joel and David Yazbek.

The concert will take place at 7:30 in Texas Wesleyan University’s Martin Hall at 1309 Wesleyan Street, Fort Worth, TX

The forty-six voice chorus has been rehearsing since October and will be presenting these eight gorgeous choral works:

Water Night – Eric Whitacre

“False Love” from Edward Elgar’s Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands

O magnum mysterium by Morten Lauridsen

Ave verum corpus by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Give Me Jesus the Fleming arrangement

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled by Bob Burroughs

Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal, Shaw/Parker Arrangement

and premiering an arrangement of Stravinsky’s Firebird for Chorus and Timpani

Some of the choir's Headshots

An all-star jazz combo will feature an original tune by Cal Lewiston called “A Daisey for Annie” as well as some musical theatre songs by Adam Guettel, Jason Robert Brown and David Yazbek.

This will be a very special evening of wonderful music in a wide variety of styles. Please consider joining the fun at this free event.

RSVP – to see who’s coming at the facebook event page.

Christmas in August

Last summer I was asked to direct a large children’s chorus as well as an adult chorus singing a track on a Holiday CD produced by DFW Actors Give Back.  The CD was a fund raiser for Jonathan’s Place, a “home-style” emergency shelter for abused, abandoned and neglected children and a Foster & Adoptive Family Program located in Dallas.

It was a pleasure and honor to work with so many talented adults and children from around the DFW area on such a worth cause.

Here’s a video interview with me and several of the other talent from the project…

Let’s Go Fly a Kite: Lake Whitney State Park

During Spring Break 2010 my 2 eldest kids went and spent most of the week with my parents at their camp site at Lake Whitney. 

Mary and I joined them for Friday night Fajitas and marsh mellows by the campfire.

Earlier that day the kids flew kites.  Max let one go so high it unraveled all the way and blew far away.  Max cried and cried about loosing that kite.  I’m glad he’s sentimental like me.

We had a great time!  Here are some pictures from that day:

View Lake Whitney