Melinda Coffey Armstead, piano & organ
Concerto in E minor, Op. 11 . . . Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) II. Romanze
Petites litanies de Jésus . . . Gabriel Grovlez (1879-1944) from L’Almanach des Images
Prelude and Fugue in E major, WTC I . . . J. S. Bach (1685-1750)
I’ve missed you since our last time together March 15. It never rains but it pours, and so the pandemic did not grant immunity from a constellation of shocks, for example, no classes or lessons, no concerts, no Tor House tours, no church, and some news you never want to hear: Bob, feeling unusually tired, was diagnosed with colon cancer on March 23, had surgery March 30 and was back home on April 2. (He says he looked into the abyss but regrets he forgot to take notes.) A very clever surgeon took the (isolated) tumor away laparoscopically, leaving no crumbs, lymph nodes testing clear. No chemo or radiation. Swift recovery, so that we are now back to our walking routine, three to five miles a day along Carmelo and Scenic, he “singing real loud” and both of us picking up litter.
Besides taking care of him, I studied the life and work of Chopin as a “sabbatical project.” My CSUMB (OLLI) lectures on Chopin in March and April were cancelled, but I pivoted to present a single session (“Chopin in Quarantine”) on May 29 via ZOOM. Learning that platform for a livestream lecture-recital was a major shift from the standard classroom format, and it kept me happily absorbed for many weeks. More than 100 people signed in to watch the presentation, both locally and internationally, including friends in Canada, Britain, and France. This new ZOOM skill will not go to waste; for example I’ve already used it to give a piano lesson to the 12 year old daughter of a former student in Tokyo, somewhere in Japan.
But enough about you. Let’s talk about me for a while. While all my services, concerts and lectures and Tor House tours were cancelled, CitF generously provided funding for Edwin Huizinga, violinist (suddenly without work) to record some beautiful classical music together in the chapel, for use in the CitF services. He and I observed extreme social distancing to accomplish this, but the sessions were very productive, satisfying and helped us both feel useful and connected while doing what we love.
Most of all, I’m delighted to be back in the saddle at Church-in-the-Forest and to see all your friendly faces again. I’ll follow social distancing strictly, but I know you won’t take offense, and we’ll go back to being as friendly as ever, just as soon as we’ve got this pesky virus on the run.