Catching up and Retiring

I’ve been so remiss in getting posts made to this journal but am happy to take a bit of time tonight to catch everyone up on what’s been happening over the last few months. Perhaps I got a bit fatigued with the hectic Spring and early Summer. Perhaps I just got a bit lazy when things calmed down. Most of all, I’m grateful that my favorite “nudge” in Chicago has said, “Hey, it’s been awhile since you made a post to your online journal”. Thanks, T-Rex.

So, here goes...

Since I last wrote, I’ve had performances in Vienna, Miami, and just outside Washington, D.C. (Wolf Trap). So much travel has occurred but I’ve been very happy to have had the last few months mostly at home as I’ve been teaching and directing at Wichita State. We have an outstanding group of students this year. And, on top of that, our enrollment has skyrocketed--especially in the Opera Program. Next week, we will open “Street Scene” in a semi-staged performance. What a wonderful piece...full of heart, humor, drama, and real life. The piece, although written in 1946, is as relevant now as it was all those many decades ago.

Lots of travel is coming over the next month or so. Lots of challenges await. But, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am in my career without the influence of a lot of people. I’d like to mention some incredible influences who have greatly touched me. Last week, I travelled to New Haven, CT, where I’ve travelled nearly every year since 2002, to once again present a master class and to give private coaching sessions to the students at Yale Opera. During this entire time period (and for so many years before), Yale Opera has been Directed by Doris Yarick-Cross. Her husband, Richard, has been on the voice faculty during this time and has been my own voice teacher for over 30 years. During my trip to Connecticut last week, it was announced to me that they have decided to retire. This is an end of an era at Yale. The lives they have touched, the singers they have guided, the influence they have had on so many (and upon the opera world)....there is no way to measure it all. There support has been felt in so many ways. Their knowledge has been passed along. And their spirit will always fill the halls of this great institution. I am most grateful and send them my deepest thanks...and so much love.

Another great influence has also decided to retire. Kim Pensinger-Witman has decided to retire from her position as Vice President of Opera and Classical Programming at Wolf Trap. Kim came to Wolf Trap shortly before my arrival there in 1987. She started as a coach/accompanist and worked her up to be one of the most important women in the opera business. She has nurtured so many careers. She has discovered and fostered talent. She has accompanied me in recital and encouraged my career for a very long time. I am grateful for all she has given to this business, the long hours she has sacrificed, and the incredible work she has done.

These are giants who are retiring. Their shoes will be hard to fill. There is so much talent on the horizon. May we always have people who are willing to shape and encourage that talent and continue to bring beauty to our world.