Tag Archives: Dr. Tedrin Lindsay

A Marvelous Party

“I have been to a marvelous party.”

Thus wrote/sang/chanted Noel Coward in 1938 and I lived it last Saturday night.

The “marvelous party” was “Encore”, ostensibly a fund-raiser for OperaLex to raise money to support the Opera Program at the University of Kentucky.

What it was, in practice, was a resounding celebration of much that is special about living in the Bluegrass.

To begin with, it was Keeneland, in May; intoxicatingly green, lush, and bursting with life…or at least the assurance of life after Derby.

Then there was the 1938 Rolls Royce convertible just inside the entrance. Is that what it takes to get a good parking space?

Then there was the wine-tasting (thank you Liquor Barn) and the mingling of Lexington’s arts supporters with the singers/students/nascent citizens of the UK Opera program. Seeing Houston Tyrrell (you’ll see him next in GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING) discussing the merits of a box of stunning South American red wines with Ben Kaufmann (you saw him in last year’s GRAND NIGHT) was jarring. I’m not completely convinced of who was advising whom, but the entertainment value…priceless.

And then the dining room; it was a palace of glassware, auguring well for the meal to come.

From the stage, Jenna Day came back from her home in Los Angeles to guide us through the evening and share her passion for this program and these students. She introduced Dr. Everett McCorvey and Dr. Tedrin Lindsey.

The spirit in the room got higher and higher;

  • Tedrin’s program for the evening included selections from the past season; LA TRAVIATA, SHOWBOAT, and BOUNCE the basketball opera.
  • Cameron Mills’ and Rex Chapman’s delight for being in the room was obvious and incandescent.
  • The passion and the talent of the singers could not be resisted.
  • Tshegofatso Clement Baloyi broke everyone’s heart with his “Ole Man River”
  • Michael Preacely and Taylor Comstock delivered world-class performances and inspiring personal stories.
  • Jessica Bayne defined class for us all.
  • Emilia Bustle charmingly explained to us that “Life Upon the Wicked Stage” isn’t what a girl supposes.

These young people come to the University of Kentucky to sing and learn to sing and learn to teach others to sing. Tell me again how Lexington, and Kentucky, and the planet is not made better by that. They are with us for two, three, four, five years. They and Lexington are made better by their time here. It is a kind of gardening of talent, and scholarship, and citizenship. Saturday’s Encore event was a kind of harvesting and renewing of that gardening.

Next year, I propose we measure the height of every participant as they enter the event, and again as they leave. I’m convinced that everyone is two inches taller for having been there.

A Quietly Extraordinary Afternoon

40-plus people gathered in a room in an historic neighborhood in Lexington. The people brought food. They brought wine. They brought minds and hearts questing for a higher dialogue than we endured in Cleveland last week. They were promised Beethoven. That was the lure that brought them out on an insufferably hot Central Kentucky afternoon.

A word about the room itself.

It’s located on New Street; no more than an alley inaccurately named, since it’s one of the oldest streets in town. The room was designed with this afternoon in mind. As our pianist declaimed; “It’s not a living room, it’s a musical salon.” The walls of the room are ornamented with musical instruments – real musical instruments with individual histories of performance. The room is strewn with photographs that document the personal saga of our hostess performing the words of Thomas Merton with John Jacob Niles.

Indulgent Side Note.

Playboy 02

  • My first show at the University of Kentucky was J. M Synge’s “Playboy of the Western World” in 1969 (pictured above). I had been a student at UK for about four weeks when the show opened. I initiated the show by slowly pushing a center stage door open, peering straight out at the audience, and timidly inquiring; “Where’s himself?” On opening night, I pushed the door and peered straight into the whiskered face of John Jacob Niles. I wasn’t quite sure if I should say my line or simply sit down on the floor and wait for him to pull out his dulcimer and sing. Understand, I would pretty much be in heaven with either choice. My fellow actors, the rest of the audience, and probably Mr. Niles himself were lucky that I chose to move on with the play.

End of Indulgent Side Note.

Our hostess this afternoon is Jackie Roberts, a remarkable singer and teacher who has nurtured and continues to nurture several generations of Lexington musicians. When I arrived early this afternoon to set up the chairs for the concert, she had already completed the task herself and “hoped that was alright.” We sat and chatted. She told me with a pride I could only envy from afar that one of her young students had just been cast in this October’s production of “Ragtime” by the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre.

The crowd, the food, and the performers arrived.

The musical program was superb.

Dr. Tedrin Lindsay’s introduction to his performance of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata #2 to open the afternoon placed us in the time and spirit of the piece. I felt as if I was sitting, turning pages for, and peeking over the shoulder of Beethoven as Tedrin played. It was not a performance tethered to today. It was adrift in time. We could have been in a room today, a room in Tedrin’s early years (he played today from his sheet music as a youth), or a room in Vienna in 1796. And the Rondo ended with the sigh Tedrin promised, closely followed by my own.

Then Dr. Lindsay introduced Janet Scott, a gifted local actress. I’ve worked with Janet in two productions by On the Verge Theatre; Lillian Hellman’s “Little Foxes” and Shakespeare’s “Much Ado”. Tedrin and Janet were featured last year in Athens West Theatre’s “33 Variations” by Moises Kaufmann. Janet and Tedrin performed several selections from that play which features Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations. Janet’s diction in this material is as precise and pleasing as the music. Her character’s initial striving for logic decays into a longing for more time…more variations…and the music ends as of course it must…teasing us with the suggestion of the perpetual existence of more music…but no more time. Bravo Beethoven! Brava Ms. Scott!

I think.

Dr. Lindsay closed the afternoon with Beethoven’s Piano Sonata #18, an excellent choice after the first two selections and a favorite of mine. It sounds so modern, so purposeful, so energetic (but energetic with a plan). This is not a young person’s damn the torpedoes idealism. It’s a celebration and exhortation of what’s possible if we’ll just get up and do it.

The room was rapt.

There was no fear in the room.

There was art in the room.

And we all participated.

And we were all made great again

…as we always are when art is in the room.

This happens with frequency in Lexington. We should recognize it and celebrate it every time it does.

A Geezer Remembers a Grand Night

GN 02In Lexington, the University of Kentucky’s extraordinary Opera Program has for the last 24 years staged an extraordinary event; “It’s a Grand Night for Singing”. Over a thousand people a night for two weeks assemble to hear remarkable voices sing Broadway/Hollywood/Billboard tunes. It’s supported by an orchestra and choreographed by a team of Broadway-seasoned professionals. It’s a startling evening. You just don’t expect this level of performance, energy, and talent from a basketball school. It’s a great tribute to Dr. Everett McCorvey who conceived the idea and has nurtured it through two-and-a-half decades and a couple of generations of participants.

I have been fortunate to have been a participant in this event a number of times. In fact, I think I may hold the record for having the most numbers cut from “Grand Night”. Hey, the standard’s high.

My friend, Dr. Tedrin Lindsay, has been a featured performer in this event for 20+ years. His piano-playing is energetic and passionate, yes. But he is also a man of great imagination and this shines forth in his performances. This is what live performance is about.

Tedrin has been recently posting some of his remembrances of “Grand Night” moments.

May I indulge in one myself?

For the third year of “Grand Night”, Everett asked me to be part of a quartet of singers to sing a medley from “Kismet”; And This is My Beloved/Baubles, Bangles and Beads. I had never met my fellow singers until I arrived at my first rehearsal for the number in Everett’s old studio, the studio that was 80% piano. We crowded in; Everett, Cliff Jackson on the piano, and singers Angelique Clay (soprano), Phumzile Sojola (tenor), and a young bass from Louisville whose name evades my geezer memory.

We rehearsed for about an hour. My fellow singers didn’t sing to me, they sang through me. I had never heard so much sound in my life. You could see the sound in that little room. After the rehearsal, I crossed the street to the Medical Center for an MRI to confirm that all my major organs were intact and in their proper places.

I was in heaven.

I was singing these stunningly beautiful songs with these crazy talented singers in front of an orchestra for a thousand people a night…in a tux.

Just kill me now.

After the show, I asked my wife if she liked the number. She replied; “Were you in that one?”

Everyone’s a critic.