Happy 65th Birthday Dad

5/31/2010 Monday 9:19 pm

Well, we pulled it off this weekend.  Glenda, my sister Sarina, and I flew to Phoenix Friday, drove to Sedona where we stayed for a few minutes with friends (David and Ruth) of my dad’s, had David’s delicious margaritas, got cleaned up and headed to Daul and Daluca’s Italian Restaurant where we waited with “Happy Birthday” masks on for my unsuspecting father to arrive with his wonderful wife Vicky (who planned the whole thing with us).  They arrived at 6:30 and the host took them to the table next to ours and, just as they were about to be seated we blew our party blowers, stood up and yelled “surprise”!  Dad turned with one of those sour expressions on his face as if to say “why did we have to get stuck next to the loud table?”, and it took a good 3 seconds before he realized that the folks behind the masks were 2 of his three children along with his daughter-in-law, Glenda!

What followed was much laughter, joyous greeting, a delicious meal, lots of great conversation and a weekend together including a non-surprise birthday party on Saturday night, a visit to see my 89-year-old grandmother in Flagstaff (Jackie) on Sunday, much-needed time together and R&R and then a trip back today that began with a 7:30 departure by car from Sedona and a flight back to Austin this afternoon.

Here are some pictures from the visit:

Dad and I at the Party Saturday

Dad and Sarina - at the restaurant

My lovely wife Glenda, by Dad's pool

Surprise! Here we are with our masks on!

Glenda and I at the restaurant

Matt, Vicky and Dad - and champagne!

Friday Night

5/21/2010 Friday 10:59 pm

We’ve reached the end of another marathon week.  Now just over 4 weeks until our giant international festival.  I can’t believe it!

Some highlights from the week include: Met with the Executive Director of Emancipet, Amy Mills, today.  Total dynamo.  We traded stories and ideas for nonprof leadership, board development and more.  I spent 3.5 hours on a conference call listening to interviews for an Executive Director position a national org, that I serve on the board of, is looking for – fascinating!  Tennis has been great this week, even managed to get a few first serves in this morning!  I had a marvelous conversation with the director of the D’Addario Foundation for the Performing Arts – long time supporters of our efforts here at ACGS.  I got a check-in call from a member of the board of Texas Choral Consort – they are doing great since we finished their strategic planning process and he asked if I would help steer their nascent development committee – something I’m more than happy to do.  We went back to see our friends at Buckalew Media on Tuesday to record a Spanish Language TV spot to promote our fest on our new TV sponsor – Univision!  We lunched and plotted new internal financial controls for ACGS (exciting, I know!) in response to highly publicized sleazy behavior from a local nonprof exec who stole money and skipped town (Family Connections).  In a separate lunch we met a new prospective board member who may be joining us in July!  Both lunches were at Chez Zee – where I returned for a third time Thursday night for the launch party of the new Austin Lifestyle Magazine.  This is the ‘zine that kindly did a feature on our huge festival and an interview with me in their current issue… so I guess that’s how I snuck onto the guest list!  I had a great time meeting Associate Editor Dana Reinart who did my interview, Adam Fortner from Creative and Sons who does the fabulous magazine design, Editor Deborah Hamilton-Lynne, and publisher Shawn Lively.  What a team.

Tomorrow is my studio recital.  I’ve got about 22 kids playing so I divided it up into 2 shows!  I also had 2 new students start this week and some requests for more!  Things are a mile a minute, but all is well.

Baked Alaska!

5/17/2010 Monday 8:58 pm

We had a great time with our dear friends Dan and Sandy this weekend (violin I and II of the Miro String Quartet).

Glenda decided it was a great opportunity to make mini-baked Alaskas!  If you’ve not had one, here’s the basic deal:

Soften ice cream and mush it into a saran-wrap-lined bowl, add a layer of pound cake, then more ice cream, then more pound cake.  Then re-freeze the whole thing.  Make meringue (whipped egg whites, cream of tartar, sugar).  Remove the bowls with ice cream/cake in them and turn them out, upside down, onto an oven-proof serving platter.  Cover them with meringue and bake for 5 minutes in a 450-degree oven.  Finish off with a kitchen blow-torch!

Here’s a shot of Daniel’s that he took before digging in!

And here’s a shot of Glenda as she’s preparing them!

Yummy!

Details and PR

5/17/2010 Monday 8:44 pm

Ah yes, details and PR seem to be the name(s) of the game for me these days.  With 5 weeks (yes, only 5 now) left before the giant festival it seems that we are chasing as much PR as possible – with the only limiting factor being the amount of time and effort we have each day to pursue it – and dealing with an incredible number of little and big details.

Excellent news is pouring in from all sides on the PR front.  Not all of which I’m at liberty to disclose at this time.  But since the great Austin Lifestyle Magazine article last week and the earlier News 8 interview a whole lot more has come into place!  There was a nice mention of the fest in last week’s Austin American Statesman’s XLent (thank you Jeanne Claire) along with a new nomination of one of last year’s concerts for an Austin Critics Table Award (Jorge Caballero and Friends).  Michael Gratovich volunteered to play at an annual employee retreat of National Instruments and for NI, along with many others, we’ve been offering employee discount options for tickets to the fest.  Today it was medical professionals among many others.  There’s really no end for outreach when it comes to spreading the word on events.  And it almost always returns.  So, print, TV and radio PR is rolling, and we continue to show up at events and talk or play or both while handing out literature while offering group discounts like crazy.  Oh, just today I got asked to speak and play at a breakfast meeting at UT Club on Wednesday morning June 2nd – the day after I do a talk and play at the downtown Rotary Club… so that kind of thing!

Which brings me to the other part of the post… details.  Details translates into emails!  I’m getting around 150 a day or so now, maybe more.  I wake up to 75 in the morning, and I dig out as fast as I can – which is often pretty fast.  And since I start at 6am, I generally don’t get too many back until 8 or 9.  But then they start coming in, and they often come in faster than I can send ’em back out!  April at ACGS has been amazing, though.  A vast number of things I’m able to send over to her, and some others in certain cases, and that’s the only reason there’s any semblance of order!  So huge thanks to April!

I haven’t said anything about what the details are… hmmm… event planning, sponsor details, comp tickets, planning travel, volunteer and staffing issues, that sort of thing.

So its not tremendously fun to write about, but its what’s for breakfast and lunch these days!

Wedding Bells are Ringing

5/9/2010 Sunday 9:15 pm

Saturday was a very special day indeed.  A little while ago my dear friend Travis, who is a work colleague, and key partner in the development and direction of our ACGS education program, surprised me when he told me that he and his fiancee had been talking, and had decided they’d like to ask if I would consider acting as officiant at their upcoming wedding!*

I am not a wedding officiant of any kind, never have been!  So I was surprised to be asked, but I was also deeply, deeply honored to be asked, and I told him that, as long as it was legally possible for me to do the job, I’d do absolutely anything necessary.  It turned out that the process involved in getting me positioned to perform the ceremony was actually relatively straightforward!

So Travis, and his lovely fiancee Marisa, who had met years ago in high school and dated on and off as they were traveling around for school and career over the years, wrote a lovely ceremony for me to recite.  They even left me a small section to “freestyle”.  On Friday I went out to the wedding site and we had a rehearsal where we went through the motions for the ceremony, got our timing down, and interfaced with the 4 musicians (all 4 are fine current or former students of Travis’!).  It was a lovely, cool evening and it was a great pleasure to meet the friends and family that had already arrived for the wedding.

Then on Saturday, after a day of teaching (and private recitation of the ceremony!), Glenda and I went out to west Austin for the ceremony.  I wore my grandfather Curt’s cufflinks for the occasion…  My dad gave me Curt’s cufflinks after he passed away 5 years ago.  They are gold cufflinks with a red image of Hercules and the lion with four diamonds in each.  The diamonds each represent a certain number of years (perhaps 5?) that Curt worked for a company called Hercules – and so altogether they represent a large portion of my grandfather’s professional life.  I treasure those cufflinks but had never worn them, and for some reason it seemed like just the right occasion to put them on**.  Perhaps it is because Curt and my grandmother (Jackie – who is thankfully still with us) had such a long and loving marriage, that they seemed like the right choice for last night.

The whole evening was just amazing.  The music was lovely, the weather was cool and comfortable, the location was peaceful and beautiful, and our careful rehearsal the day before helped everything to come off without a hitch.  I played my little part being careful not to make eye contact for any length of time with either Marisa or Travis since we were all on the edge of tears.  I believe the ceremony itself was deeply emotional yet at the same time, we were all able to, more or less, maintain our composure throughout!

What followed was a long evening of eating, dancing, making new friends and catching up with old ones.  It was a lovely wedding.

My wedding Bells are Ringing post would not be complete without a mention of our neighbors Claus and Stefania who celebrated, Friday evening, their 10th wedding anniversary.  Friday was a long and wonderful evening, actually, because after returning home from the rehearsal at around 9:15, Glenda and I went across the street to Claus and Stefania’s where we stayed until around 1am celebrating with our friends (and 40 more of their friends as well!).

* I should say that Glenda and I, on our second wedding day (November 3rd, 2001), chose a similarly unconventional officiant in my guitar teacher/mentor Adam Holzman!  We were looking for an adult figure in our lives who had been of particular significance and he was the clear choice.  The day remains one of our fondest memories.  It was our “second” wedding day, because we had been married the day before in a traditional Vietnamese ceremony in Houston – so we had a double-header!

** The story of the cufflinks continues because, much to my dismay, at the end of the evening last night I discovered that one of them had slipped out of my (right) shirt sleeve.  We looked around for it for a while but to no avail.  Its a happy ending, though.  I was overjoyed to receive Travis’ text message this morning at 11 saying he’d found it!  So lucky.