The pleasure was ours
As Thankful Music comes to a close, and our Holiday Songbook is opened, we move through the last musical phase of 2008...without a wonderful interpreter of Christmas music.
Where has the time gone? It went so quickly this year. I'm generally looking and working almost two months ahead of the current date, so the year always seems a bit rushed anyway, but 2008 has flown past me. Now I'm culling the really great stuff from the merely terrific stuff in Caroline Kennedy's Christmas collection for readings at the Rochester Oratorio concert on December 7th (rossings.org), planning the cookie baking, and watching a usually full schedule melt down into wildly hectic. Nothing new for any of us, I assume.
Today, I looked through the holiday musical goodies lined up for Middays over the next few weeks, and caught my breath. There it was, slated for December 16 in the 11 AM hour: Vaughan Williams' On Christmas Night, with Richard Hickox conducting. A wonderful piece, lead by a wonderful conductor, now gone. I'm usually consistent in checking the New York Times obituaries, but all that special programming hijacked my time, and it wasn't until late last night that I saw it: Richard Hickox, British Conductor, Dies at 60. One of my favorite conductors died, and I didn't see it until six days after the fact. I love his work: brisk and emotive, without becoming maudlin. Hickox and the Northern Sinfonia recorded one of my favorite version of Wagner's Siegfried Idyll, a piece that can plummet rather precipitously into pompous and/or syrupy at the drop of a baton. Not a problem for Richard Hickox. He brought a rolling, enveloping feel to it, wrapping around you like a fleece blanket. I program this piece for Christmas Eve every year, with a different conductor and orchestra each time; this year it was Maestro Hickox's turn. This year, I will listen with new ears, hanging on all we have left of an artist who brought the best to everything he touched. It will be bittersweet. Like the passing of time always is.