We've tried to make this Christmas a sparer and simpler one, without so much "stuff." Both of Leroy's gifts from me this year involve music. This afternoon the first gift took shape -- the piano got tuned. And we've met another truly interesting person, piano tuner Richard Weeks, who is also a jazz musician.
I bought the Chickering upright piano new from Sherman Clay in the fall of 1985 for Leroy, after I had left the Seattle Art Museum, using part of my 401k to do it. My banker, himself a Helden tenor, shivered when I told him. I bought it just as I was starting to run what was then still a very small computer company, with a child just under a year old. A lot of risk, you might say. A frivolous thing to do? If it was, it would be because neither of us played the piano at that time. And now look at what we have wrought: a composer/musician/professor and all three children, who play the piano to some extent. As do our grandchildren, each and every one.
Leroy's birthday dinner that year was quite splendid. I had Sherman Clay deliver the piano and move it into place in the afternoon before he was home. We managed to keep him out of the living room until the last moment. That evening our dinner guests included Cassandra and Richard, who had driven up from Oregon to gave us a memorable performance after dinner. They were both in music school at the time. Today, Richard's arrangements and compositions are published frequently; and Cassandra sings professionally. Music is what keeps them going after their day jobs are over.
I can't wait until our open house this weekend, when I am hoping our neighbor Matt, an accomplished pianist, will play the piano to celebrate the joys of making music.