Monday, November 18, 2013

Back online after a very long hiatus.

Many things have happened during 2013. The year began with great plans: the release of No. 11 and No. 12 in the Maestro Classics series of CDs - The Merry Pranks of Master Till (with the great Til Eulenspiegel by Richard Strauss) and The Nutcracker with narration. In addition, my husband, conductor Stephen Simon, with whom I had collaborated for over 20 years, and I were planning the long awaited recording of his many Christmas and Hanukkah arrangements that he created for the annual Holiday Spectacular Sing-Alongs at the Kennedy Center. 2013 began and I said that I felt it would be a very good year. 

Maestro Stephen Simon - Antarctica - Dec. 2012
However, on January 19th, a sparking Saturday morning, I went out to walk our Golden Retriever, Marigold, in Central Park here in New York City, and returned to the apartment less than a hour later to discover that my world had dramatically changed. Stephen had had a catastrophic brain hemorrhage. I called 911 and within an hour was told that things would never be the same. His six sons gathered from across the country, we all said good-bye; he never woke up. 

I asked the assistant conductor to conduct his Tuesday concert, the final concert of L'Orchestre des Portes Rouges in New York City, the orchestra that he had started when we returned to New York after 20 years in Washington, DC where we had worked on concerts at the Kennedy Center with the Washington Chamber Symphony. The funeral on that Friday was filled with music, all music that had special significance for him and performed by musicians with whom he was very close. The following Saturday, I asked a colleague to conduct his Simon Sinfonietta concert in Falmouth, MA, re-wrote the program and prepared remarks to announce the conclusion of this much beloved series on Cape Cod. Obituaries in the New York Times, the Washington Post and many other papers followed, Letters flooded in from musicians who over and over said, "I never would have had the career I have had, if Stephen had not given me that opportunity early on." I could only add that in 35 years of marriage, I never once was greeted with anything but cheerfulness. Stephen loved every minute of life right up to the very end.

About a month ago, I was finally able to return to the Maestro Classics office and think about facing what had become our joint brainchild. We always said that it was our gift to the next generation. Now, it is all mine. As I return to the world in suspended disbelief, I am grateful for all the wonderful times that we had and hope the continue the musical tradition that brought so much joy to so many, including ourselves.

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