2017 has been a year of turmoil and controversy for our country – and we certainly hope that 2018 will eventually bring us back some sanity. But despite all of that – we had many things to be grateful for in 2017, and we found much joy as well as shedding a few tears.
The biggest events during the year were Elise’s 60th birthday, a move to Hollywood, and a trip to northern Europe.
To celebrate her birthday, Elise threw herself a party at the supper-club Rockwell Table and Stage – and sang an evening’s worth of songs that were written especially for her by the very talented writers at New Musicals Inc. Stephen accompanied several of the songs on his cello, and Rebecca flew in for the occasion and sang a couple of duets with her old mom. There are a handful of pictures of the event below, but for the full scoop, check out the SINGING SIXTY page.
Shortly after the big birthday event, we were informed by our landlord at our Kenmore apartment of twelve years that our rent would be going up by over 50% at the end of the summer. We had seen this coming, because half the tenants had been kicked out the previous fall, and the apartments were all being renovated with plans to increase the rents in the whole building. Knowing we couldn’t afford that much of a hike, we made the difficult decision to leave our beloved apartment, and after quite a bit of searching, we found a lovely (and completely renovated!) place in Hollywood, only a few miles away.
We completed the move just in time to head out for a two week trip to northern Europe to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. We visited Stockholm and Gothenburg in Sweden; Copenhagen; Amsterdam; Bruges in Belgium; and Calais – with a quick ferry trip over to Dover in England! There are some highlight pictures below – and a full slide show and description of the whole trip on our EUROPE TRIP page.
The rest of our year was pretty busy as well! For Stephen, the year included the usual coaching for the Verdugo Young Musician’s Association and the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra; working with the Harmony Project; playing in the pit for Music Man and Spelling Bee; playing for the Long Beach Symphony and the Long Beach Pops; as well as a sextet at the Greystone Mansion as part of the Beverly Hills Music Festival. He also managed the extremes of playing with an 80-piece orchestra (for Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem) and in the 2-musician version of The Last Five Years (with only piano and cello). And then, of course, the usual holiday gigs of Candlelight Concerts at Disneyland and the Nutcracker in Long Beach.
Our visits with family this year included Elise making a quick trip to Kansas City for New Year’s (while Stephen was still on his 3-week tour of China); a trip to Toronto in March to help Stephen’s sister Ellen move his mother Tanya from her apartment into Baycrest Hospital where she is now living in assisted care; a summer visit from Carl and Rebecca; then Elise stopping in Kansas City on the way home from Europe to visit her parents (and be joined again by Carl and Rebecca!). Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and we were not able to take the 87th birthday balloon ride that June had planned – but we had a fun visit anyway. And in November, Stephen visited his mom Tanya to celebrate her 92nd birthday.
Carl and Rebecca also had some travels – besides their visits to LA and KC over the summer – they also spent time in Paris in February and in London and Cyprus (for Carl’s sister’s wedding) in the fall; and made a couple of trips to Calgary to see Carl’s parents. And from Kansas City, they also made a road-trip to Nashville where they were able to see the eclipse with Rebecca’s school friend Emma Banks (who is responsible for Rebecca and Carl meeting!)
Back in April, while we were still in our Kenmore apartment, the entire building had to be tented for termites, and so we were given a handful of cash from our landlord to clear out for three days. We took advantage of this opportunity to drive up to San Francisco to see the new Fern’s Garden location in Berkeley. Unfortunately, Fern and Sam were not in town as they were still packing up in LA, but we did manage to put together a take-out version of a seder for Passover with Murray (in his assisted care facility) and Ona and Eric who had also driven up from LA. We were so glad to have this special time with Ona, since only a few months later we lost Ona so unexpectedly to complications from her life-long struggle with epilepsy. Ona’s service was beautiful – with so many loving friends and family there to give comfort to Eric as he learns to live without his soul mate.
On our way home from San Francisco, we made our first visit to the beautiful Yosemite Park. It was a rainy day – but we still got to see some amazing sights!
When we were in Toronto in March, we also had a chance to have dinner with our good friends Leslie and Cathy, and once again we feel so blessed to have had this opportunity because while Elise was in New York in October, we got the devastating news that Cathy had been tragically killed by a car while walking outside her home. Elise was able to arrange to go to Toronto for Cathy’s Celebration of Life, and to speak at that event along with many other people who were gathered to remember the amazing artist and person she was. It is so hard to think of the world without Cathy – and we are so glad that our home is filled with so much of her art that can help us remember her. Elise was also very glad to get to spend a couple of days with Leslie up at the farm following the memorial. Leslie is surrounded with a loving community that is doing their best to help her deal with the loss of her soulmate and life partner.
Meanwhile, at New Musicals Inc., things were very busy, as usual! A plumbing issue in the early new year meant that we were able to get entirely new flooring in the front half of the building – a real improvement on our 12-year-old carpeting! We took on producing 12 brand new short musicals at the Hollywood Fringe Festival (Elise directed one show and was in one show) and our biennial STAGES Festival was entirely streamed live which involved lots of crazy technology and many hours of interviews with musical theatre luminaries all over the world. In the fall, Elise started a new video blog giving tips and advice to musical theatre writers; and we were happy to welcome one of our biggest ever Core groups in the fall. Elise also made her annual pilgrimmage to New York for the NAMT Festival, and was able to stay with Carl and Rebecca and treat them to the Broadway show Come From Away and celebrate Rebecca’s 30th birthday!
So, our year brought joy and it brought tears – and we are entering 2018 with great hope for the future and with a renewed gratitude for all that we have – including all of you!
Elise, Stephen, Rebecca & Carl
(Above) The program cover from Elise's "Singing Sixty" birthday bash; (Below) Elise's "swag" including a signed poster and lovely flowers and cards.
(Above) Rebecca and Elise singing the duet "If Not Now"; (Below) Elise singing "Mr. Whiskers".
our visit to Yosemite
LEFT: Stephen and Elise enjoying lunch at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel; ABOVE: Ona and Eric at our San Francisco take-out Passover Seder
our northern europe trip
ABOVE: The view from our lunch at Stockholm’s Opera House Terrace; BELOW: Visiting with Tara Hunnewell and her son Odin in Gothenburg.
ABOVE & BELOW: The beautiful Nyehaven Harbor in Copenhagen. BELOW: Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens.
ABOVE: some of the many bicycles of Copenhagen. BELOW: Another one of the beautiful canals of Amsterdam.
ABOVE: our amazing anniversary dinner at The Silverenspiegel in Amsterdam. BELOW: The main square of Bruges in Belgium.
ABOVE: A view of Bruges from the top of the Bell Tower. BELOW: The Burghers of Calais statue outside the Town Hall of Calais.
|Here are some highlights of our trip to Northern Europe. Check out a SLIDE SHOW of many more pictures from our amazing trip!|
ABOVE: The view from our hotel boat in Stockholm; LEFT: On our way to dinner in Old Town Stockholm; BELOW: the Stockholm Old Town square.
ABOVE: Getting a boat tour of Gothenburg’s harbor. BELOW: One of Amsterdam’s beautiful canals.
ABOVE: An Amsterdam cheese shop. BELOW: An Amsterdam windmill.
ABOVE: The Bell Tower in Bruges, and the stands for the big parade. BELOW: A selfie at the top of the Keep of the Dover Castle in England.
BELOW: The famous white cliffs of Dover.
Carl, Rebecca, and Elise at the top of the Freedom Tower
Stephen helping Tanya with her mandolin (Tanya in her fancy painted shoes!)
ABOVE: Rebecca and Carl in London; BELOW: Potemkin being Potemkin
ABOVE: Rebecca and Carl kayaking in New York; BELOW: Rebecca & Carl after a 5K race
Stephen in the pit for the Nutcracker
Stephen with the 80 piece orchestra for Benjamin Britten's War Requirem
ABOVE: Rebecca and Carl in Paris; BELOW: Rebecca and Carl at the Calgary Stampede
ABOVE: Having brunch in Long Beach with Anna Pearl; BELOW: Rebecca and Carl's Halloween pumpkins, followed by Elise and Stephen's attempts.
Above: NMI before; Right: NMI after! and BELOW: The technology it takes to offer our program around the world!
looking forward to 2018!