A few days late, I wanted to share what a special Easter weekend we had. I hope you and your families did too. From Good Friday through Easter Sunday and beyond, it was a weekend filled with fun, fellowship and rewarding outings for our family.
On Good Friday evening, I was able to take a brief break from my newspaper editing at home and join the congregation at The Welcome Table Christian Church, a small nearby church I’ve been attending since last fall. As I wrote recently, I’ve also just joined the church’s talented choir, and we sang a sad but beautiful piece during that evening’s short service called “The Day the Cross Held Up the Sky,” with our amazing soloist Kim Troxell, director Michael Black and pianist extraordinaire Claudia Fuenmayor leading the way.
Only seven of our usual 12 or 13 choir members were able to attend, so I’m glad I could make it before returning home to finish my shift. By the way, have I mentioned how much I’m enjoying singing with the choir? 😊
I usually work from 1 to almost 9:30 p.m. on Saturdays, but I’d taken this one off so my friend and work colleague (and fellow Aggie) John Lose and I could catch the Dallas Symphony Orchestra performing my favorite piece of classical music, Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World,” at the Meyerson Symphony Center. More on that rousing performance in a bit.
A few hours before the concert, Kay, the kids and I made the short drive from Arlington to the Westworth Village area west of downtown Fort Worth to check out, for the first time, Airfield Falls Trailhead & Conservation Park. It’s adjacent to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (the former Carswell AFB) and features Tarrant County’s largest natural waterfall, scenic trails, and native plants and wildlife. It also has a display of parts from a McDonnell Douglas C-9 aircraft and much more cool stuff to see.
Airfield Falls, which we didn’t know about until pretty recently, is great for hiking and a nature getaway if you live in North Texas. After our hike, we had some tasty burgers and fries nearby at Tommy’s Burgers & Brews (we had no brews), another first sampling for us.
I cleaned up and drove eagerly to the Meyerson in downtown Dallas to meet John for the 7:30 p.m. concert. Even though it was going to be my third time to hear the DSO perform “From the New World” (2014 and 2019), I could never get tired of this one. It’s the piece that pulled me into classical music for life as a teen clarinet player in the Conroe High symphonic band when we feebly attempted to play one of the movements my sophomore year.
When I looked at the DSO’s 2021-22 schedule a few months ago and saw “From the New World” listed, I wrote down the dates in hopes of getting a night off to attend. I checked in with John because I remembered him telling me once that it was also one of his favorites. I asked if he’d be interested in going and he said he would. When I asked again a few weeks ago, he still wanted to go, so after I asked our boss if I could take a PTO day and she said yes, I ordered our upper-level tickets (called the Grand Tier). Our boss and another friend/work colleague have season tickets and planned to attend, so I’d hoped my asking off would be an easy sell, if our copy desk staffing allowed.
After John and I met at the Meyerson about 30 minutes early, I came to learn he had NEVER been to a DSO concert in his 24-plus years working at The Dallas Morning News. I was shocked. John has edited countless DSO reviews written by our classical music critic, Scott Cantrell, and I was certain he’d been to at least a few concerts — but he’d never even stepped inside the Meyerson!
I’ve attended occasional DSO concerts for years, and I know it to be one of the finest orchestras in the world. I hadn’t been to one since before the pandemic, so I was thrilled to finally make it back.
It goes without saying that “From the New World” didn’t disappoint — how could it ever? I told John afterward that it’s so incredible, you just don’t want it to end. I asked him if he has a favorite movement; it’s so tough for either of us to choose, but I might say the “Allegro vivace” fourth. My friend and fellow church choir member Kevin Anderson said for him, it would have to be No. 2, the “Largo” featuring the English horn soloist playing the Czech composer’s enchanting “Going Home” melody that’s weaved throughout.
When I saw the DSO perform “From the New World” three years ago, I had been unable to find the soloist amid the woodwinds. I finally found him spotlighted while standing and playing among spectators in the boxes along the side of the concert hall. This time, David Matthews was sitting with the orchestra while playing his captivating solos.
The first two pieces the DSO played Saturday were the “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage” overture by Mendelssohn (I wasn’t familiar with it) and Schumann’s well-known Concerto in A minor for Piano and Orchestra, both of which came before the intermission. The brilliant piano soloist was Kirill Gerstein, whom I also wasn’t familiar with, but after a Google search, I see he’s world-renowned.
Listening to Gerstein and the orchestra perform and how in sync they were made me wonder how in Beethoven’s name they do it. They can’t possibly have that much rehearsal time together before their three consecutive days of performances. It’s unbelievable they can stay on the same page through an entire piece. Of course, the pianist has performed it hundreds of times and is playing from memory while the orchestra is reading sheet music.
At intermission, we saw and chatted briefly with not only our boss Denise, but also three former DMN colleagues, Betsy, John and his wife Sarah, all of whom I hadn’t seen in a while.
On Easter Sunday, the day of our Lord’s resurrection, we had a magnificent service at church, where the congregation sang, among other hymns, “In the Garden,” which Kay and I love, and our choir performed “Death, Where is Your Sting?”
Thanks to new friends, we had fun plans after church: Choir buddy Kevin and wife Janet (also a choir member) invited us to join them at Globe Life Field to watch the Texas Rangers play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — with superstars Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.
We met at their place, piled into their Jeep, had lunch at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop not far from the ballpark and made the short drive to the Andersons’ reserved parking spot a short walk from the stadium. They have tickets to a handful of games each season as part of a ticket consortium of Janet’s former colleagues at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she was an accountant for almost four decades before retiring several years ago.
And we couldn’t have had a better view. Our seats were about 20 or so rows up, directly behind home plate in the mezzanine section (when we sat down, I couldn’t believe it — cushioned seats!). And we’d noticed when driving in that the retractable roof was open — a great call by the Rangers on a delightful, breezy day that started out cloudy and turned into a clear afternoon, with temperatures that only made it to 79. We were in shade the whole game.
Oh, the game. The hometown Rangers played sloppy defense (three errors, three steals allowed and a few other misplays), handed out too many walks (seven, five of which scored) and got no timely hitting (0-for-6 with runners in scoring position). According to our esteemed Rangers beat writer/baseball expert Evan Grant at The News, it’s been 30 years since the team gave up six walks, three steals and committed three errors in a game.
So, looking on the bright side, we witnessed some “history.” That added up to an 8-3 loss that completed a 1-5 homestand and left the Rangers 2-7 on the young season. Meanwhile, two hours into the game, Kay and I started monitoring my beloved Astros on our phones, and they fared just as miserably, losing to Seattle 7-2 to end a season-opening road trip with a 5-4 record.
We also were on hand for a scary moment, when Trout, the Angels’ nine-time All-Star and three-time MVP center fielder, was hit on the left hand by a pitch from Rangers reliever Spencer Patton in the fifth inning. Thankfully, X-rays were negative and he’s day-to-day — the Angels sure can’t afford to lose him for an extended period again after he missed most of last season with a torn calf muscle.
Taking this Easter weekend roundup into Monday, the second day of my usual weekend (I work Tuesdays through Saturdays), I relished another special treat: Spending 25 minutes on a video call with my second cousin Jeanne Rowe Arthur in Muncie, Indiana, who turned 90 on Sunday!
Jeanne is a dear lady whom I found 10 years ago when I was looking for older living relatives from my birth family. Her father Lloyd was the great-uncle of my biological full siblings Crys, Terry, Robin and me on our mother Betty’s side. Terry and I have spent time with Jeanne twice — in 2012 when we were visiting our hometown of Huntington, West Virginia, and drove six hours up to Muncie to meet Jeanne and a bunch of other family members, and again in 2015 when we were in Huntington and drove to Columbus, Ohio, and had lunch with Jeanne and her son Matt.
Late Monday afternoon, Jeanne’s sweet daughter Sherry — who shares a birthday with my brother Crys and me (Feb. 28) — set up a Messenger video call for us at Jeanne’s home after Sherry got off work. I wished Jeanne a happy birthday and we talked about what’s been going on in our lives. She said she’s doing quite well for 90, although she’s dealing with a macular degeneration diagnosis so has had to give up driving, much to her disappointment.
Jeanne and I haven’t visited much by phone in recent years, so I loved seeing her face for the first time in a while, thanks to the awesomeness of technology. She said that in case she isn’t around too much longer (which I hope isn’t the case!), we’d be seeing each other again sometime. I assured her that we definitely will.
A perfect ending to an Easter weekend I’ll always remember.