Vail is a great place for family reunions. Our families have been coming here for decades in summer and winter. Our skiing days are over, but we still come to Bravo for the whole concert season. “We” includes my sister and brother-in-law Mary Beth and George Hughes from St. Louis; my sister Janet Robbins from Orange County, Calif.; her twin, Jean Cauchon, also from Orange County, who may join us later; and me from Denver.
What I really want to talk about is the Bravo concert Wednesday, July 10, with the Philadelphia Orchestra. The conductor, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, spoke of the connection the Philadelphia Orchestra has had with Rachmaninoff, one of the two composers featured that evening, and the connection he has with Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No 2, which brought down the house on Wednesday, a very full house indeed.
I began reminiscing about my connections with both of the evening’s composers. Some years ago, I entered a contest our classical radio station in Denver held. It involved a crossword puzzle with the radio station giving a clue every day for a week. I knew that one of the answers was Shostakovich. I wasn’t sure of the spelling, so I had to look it up in the dictionary. I mailed in my completed crossword and waited. There were over 600 correct entries. The one name that was drawn was mine. The prize was a trip to Paris for two. Thank you, Shostakovich.
When we were children, our parents took the New York Central from St. Louis to New York. On the train, my father said, “I think that is Rachmaninoff sitting over there.” He went to check it out. Sure enough. He shook his hand and told him how much he enjoyed his music. For weeks afterwards, he would go around asking, “Does anyone want to shake the hand that shook the hand of Rachmaninoff?”
I had quite a memorable and enjoyable evening.