Daily Update: Monday, November 21st, 2016

Presentation of Mary

Today we celebrate the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

According to the Protoevangelium of James, the apocryphal Infancy Narrative (written about the year 200, or some 13o years after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem), Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, who had been childless, received a heavenly message that they would bear a child. In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, they brought her, when still a child, to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God. Mary remained in the Temple until puberty, at which point she was assigned to Joseph as guardian. Later versions of the story (such as the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary) tell us that Mary was taken to the Temple at around the age of three in fulfillment of a vow. Tradition held that she was to remain there to be educated in preparation for her role as Mother of God. The Roman Catholic Church, on the day of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, without passing judgment on the veracity of the story, notes that “we celebrate that dedication of herself which Mary made to God from her very childhood under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who filled her with grace at her Immaculate Conception.”

The Last Quarter Moon arrived at 2:35 am; much later, at 9:00 am, I got out of bed after having disturbing dreams, and read the morning paper while eating my breakfast toast.

We left the house at 10:15 am, and at the bank, Richard got our last two deposits (our salary checks from Friday) and a new temporary password. We then went to Lake Charles and visited with Deborah and with Virginia; Deborah will not be back to the casino from her foot surgery until late in February, and Virginia will be back at the casino after her hip surgery on November 30th. Both of them enjoyed our vacation pictures.

Leaving Deborah and Virginia, we got lunch via a drive through window at McDonalds and headed to Lafayette. We went to the Grand 16 theatre and saw the 4:00 pm showing of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is Harry Potter, but for adults (and set in 1926). It was a very good film in all respects. We then drove to Opelousas and ate Chinese for dinner at the Creswell Lane Restaurant, then went to the local Wal-Mart, where Richard got some groceries and a smallish turkey. We arrived home at 8:30 pm, and I got busy with tonight’s Daily Update. And when I finish this Daily Update I will take a hot bath and go to bed.

Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr (died 117). I will attempt to wake up early so that I can work on addressing Christmas cards all day. And tomorrow evening our New Orleans Pelicans (4-10, 0-2) will play an Away NBA game with the Atlanta Hawks (9-3, 2-2).

Our Parting Quote this Monday Evening comes to us from Joseph Silverstein, American violinist, concertmaster, and conductor. Born in 1932 in Detroit, Michigan (and known to his family and friends as Joey), as a youth he studied with his father, who was a public school music teacher. He began studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at age twelve. His teachers included Efrem Zimbalist, William Primrose, Josef Gingold, and Mischa Mischakoff. Although he never formally completed his high school education, Silverstein did graduate from the Curtis Institute of Music in 1950. Following completion of his studies at Curtis, Silverstein played as a section musician with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Denver Symphony Orchestra. In 1955 (the year after his marriage) Silverstein joined the second violin section of Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO); at age twenty-three he was the youngest musician in the orchestra at the time. In 1959 he won a silver medal at the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition, and in 1960 he won the Naumburg Award from the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation. In 1962, Silverstein became BSO concertmaster, a position he held for 22 years. In an orchestra, the concertmaster is the leader of the first violin section. Any violin solo in an orchestral work is played by the concertmaster (except in the case of a concerto, in which case a guest soloist usually plays). It is usually required that the concertmaster be the most skilled musician in the section, experienced at learning music quickly, counting rests accurately and leading the rest of the string section by his or her playing and bow gestures. The concertmaster sits to the conductor’s left, closest to the audience, in what is called the “first chair,” “first stand” or “first desk” (in the UK). He or she makes decisions regarding bowing and other technical details of violin playing for the violins, and sometimes for all of the string players. The concertmaster leads the orchestra in tuning before concerts and rehearsals, and perform other technical aspects of orchestra management. Leading the orchestral tuning is not just a mere formality; if the concertmaster believes that a section is not adequately tuned, he or she will signal to the oboe player to play another “A.” Several larger orchestras have one or more assistant concertmasters, who lead the orchestra in the concertmaster’s absence. The concertmaster, along with the conductor and section principals, will normally participate in the auditions of important musicians (e.g., principal players) in the orchestra. Silverstein became a faculty artist at the Sarasota Music Festival in 1969, and was appointed assistant conductor of the BSO in 1971. During his time in Boston, he performed with other local ensembles such as the Civic Symphony and Banchetto Musicale. He also taught at the New England Conservatory, Yale University, and Boston University as well as serving on the faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center. In addition to teaching in Boston, he served as a professor of violin at the Curtis Institute of Music. Silverstein left the BSO in 1984. Silverstein was music director of the Utah Symphony from 1983 to 1998. He served as acting music director of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra in 2001 until the orchestra’s demise in 2003. He was the artistic advisor to the Portland Symphony Orchestra for the 2007-2008 season (died 2015): “Concertmaster was as much of a goal as I ever had in mind. It’s all been very pleasant and even. Hardly dramatic. I never got a call at 3 a.m. from Sol Hurok saying, ‘I’ve got 150 concerts for you.’ ”

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