Skokie and Sandy

Posted on Nov 9th, 2012 by Jeanne Golan

This entry may seem a departure of sorts, but then, this autumn has been full of such departures from the norm; throughout, I’ve been impressed by people’s capacity for generosity and fortitude in the face of severe and unforeseen hardship.

My time in Skokie playing the complete Ullmann – at times, seemed daunting as I prepared for it, both at the keyboard and in how I would shape my commentary.  Yet, from the moment I arrived there (having the extra boost of bumping into a friend on the plane!), I couldn’t have asked for a better circumstance.   Everyone I encountered was incredibly supportive and appreciative, from the Museum staff security who happily kept the building open late so I could practice longer hours while telling me how the days sped by because there was live music in the building, to my wonderful sponsors, Ellen and Phil Glass, who couldn’t do enough to make my stay more comfortable.   At every turn in working out the various logistics, each person involved took ownership of the event.  By the time I walked on stage it wasn’t just me, but the whole community.  The community even extended to WFMT, where George Preston led us through a fun and provocative hour talking about Ullmann, and the station recorded the performances for broadcast.  I was pleased that the audiences for both concerts had such a range of ages and backgrounds, but it was especially gratifying to meet and talk with the survivors afterwards, and find out what hearing this music was like for them, a few of whom had been interned in Terezin and remembered attending concerts there.

Then the return home, where a week later Hurricane Sandy lashed the north-eastern seaboard with such vehemence – so many of my students, colleagues, family and friends directly impacted.   Time was suspended – mesmerizingly – watching it, hearing it(!), and tracking its consequence created a sense of limbo.  Being called back to work on Long Island where somehow my students managed to show up, I found the majority plunged into a quasi-19th c. existence that will take some time to recover from.  I’ve been struck by how good they are to each other, volunteering wherever they can, and their overall kindness, even while living in such conditions.


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