Easter Sunday

To say that this has been a “different kind” of Easter would be an understatement. I’ve never had one quite like it. I won’t go into a lot of detail as none of that is important. What is important is that this is a day where Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord. No matter where you are in the world, as a Christian, this is THE most important day of the year and I hope this has been a fulfilling, joyous, and blessed day for you all.

I have spent Easter in so many different locales over the years. I have fond memories of Easters spent in Munich, Paris, and Toronto. But this year, being in Tokyo is a totally different kind of experience. I was able to get to Mass at a local Catholic Church last night in order to celebrate the Easter Vigil. It is always amazing to me that, even with such vastly different cultures, the liturgy is basically the same as anywhere else. That is comforting and wonderful to me.

But this is a country that does not have nearly as much Christian influence as other places where I’ve sung. Today was a “work day” for me with several hours being spent in the rehearsal hall here in Tokyo as we prepare “Die Meistersinger” for the upcoming concerts. It was great to be with colleagues and to sing this glorious music. However, just once I would have loved to have heard the great hymn, “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” being sung by the wonderful singers in the room. I would have loved to have heard the orchestra breaking into the “Hallelujah Chorus”. But, even if the expression wasn’t so well heard in the music that surrounded me today, it was felt in my heart. He is Risen! Truly, He is Risen!

I will have much more to say later this week about “Die Meistersinger” and what this piece means to me. I have quite a history with this opera and some strong personal feelings about what it means to finally bring Hans Sachs to my repertoire. And I have a lot I want to say about the Wichita State University Shockers. Check back mid-week. But, until then, have a blessed and very Happy Easter week!

Time for Tokyo

After a very long flight and a day or two to recover, I am now having a chance to post my first blip from Tokyo. There’s no getting around it--it’s a long trip to Japan. But, all in all, I seem to be handling the jet lag much better than the last 3 times I’ve come to Asia. And it is indeed a pleasure to be here. The Cherry Blossoms are in bloom (2 weeks early) and they are a spectacular sight to behold. For some reason, the traffic has not been, so far, as bad as I remember either. We don’t begin rehearsals for a few days which is a relief. I intentionally came early to give my body a few days to adjust to the change in time zones (13) and culture. Hans Sachs is a very difficult role to wrap one’s mind around even in the best of circumstances. As this is my first outing with the role, I need to have my wits about me during this short rehearsal period and during the concerts. We’ll give it our best attempt and see how it all comes together.

As always, this is a great time of year for a basketball fan--especially a basketball fan who has just seen his favorite college team (and alma mater) make it to the Sweet 16 in basketball. The Wichita State Shockers shocked a lot of people with their wins over The University of Pittsburgh and Gonzaga (I wasn’t all that surprised). I’m thrilled that they will now take on LaSalle in Los Angeles this coming weekend to try to make it to the Elite 8. I have a neighbor who is a LaSalle graduate. It’s probably best that I’m over here on this side of the ocean and he’s on the other (and with a continent separating oceans as well). We would probably be showing our school pride a bit too openly for the comfort of the rest of our neighbors. Personally, I think a giant Black and Gold WuShock would look great painted on his beautiful green lawn.

Yesterday was Palm Sunday and I rejoice that we have now entered into Holy Week. I find true inspiration and wonderful contemplation during these days each year. The journey from yesterday’s celebration of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem to Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday (Easter Vigil) and, finally, Easter Sunday, is always moving. May your journey through this week bring you reflexion, dedication, and peace.

Habemus Papam!

And I rejoice! May the Lord bless Pope Francis and His Holy Church.

I’m enjoying a few days off before heading to Tokyo next week for my first crack at Hans Sachs in “Die Meistersinger”. What a challenge! I’ll post more on that soon.

And last week brought a wonderful time in Alabama teaching at The Vann Vocal Institute. The folks I met in Alabama were some of the most hospitable and warmest people I’ve ever met.

The week before took me to Yale for my annual public master class and private coachings with the students at Yale Opera. Oh, how I enjoy my time with them.

But, today is a day to rejoice and be glad. The continuous thread remains unbroken and we have been blessed with a very humble and sincere new Pope. May the rest of Lent be a great time of reflection and hope and may the joy of Easter know no bounds.