As I look back (now safely home in Connecticut) on two amazing weeks of travel, music, family, and friends, I am filled with gratitude for all the help we received along the way.
First and foremost, Concerts to Cure Kidney Cancer — 2015 Tour would not have been possible without Brenda Casey. Not only did she suggest we underwrite and split the cost of the trip, but she also rounded up her sorority sisters from the University of Kansas and her childhood friends from Emporia, KS, who graciously hosted us and filled audience chairs. Brenda also bought a new GPS for the 2,000+ mile trip, brought her laptop computer from which I blogged, and provided housing for six days in her condo in Denver. Brenda not only was the navigator for the trip, but she also did all the worrying for me!
And thank you Emma Todd for lending me the beret you bought in Paris! I couldn’t have played the Debussy piece throughout our tour without it.
Philadelphia, PA, June 23
Bryan and Marisa Lewis put us up in their guest room in Philadelphia for two nights. Bryan arranged for us to play at the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, dealt with insurance issues, arranged all of the publicity, saw to the marketing materials, set up all of the chairs in circles around us, handed out programs, and provided the refreshments at the concert on June 23 with the help of his children, Jackson and Isabel.
Raleigh, NC, June 26
Ken Jens of Chapel Hill contacted Ruggero Piano Store for our Raleigh concert. Richard Ruggero was VERY amenable to our playing our two piano concert in his Bosendorfer Concert Hall, especially because it was a benefit for kidney cancer research. He also arranged to have the concert recorded.
Ken Jens’s wife Sandy Milroy was a childhood playmate of Brenda’s in Emporia, KS. She and Ken provided a lovely room and bath for Brenda, and hosted a sit-down dinner on June 25 for ten including the following guests:
Lynn and Josie Elwell of Durham, who provided the refreshments at our concert in Raleigh. And Phyllis and Roger Lotchin, who put me up in their guest room and bath for two nights in Chapel Hill. Phyllis sent out at least fifty letters to her friends in the area, publicizing our event.
Bryan Lewis and his family drove from Philadelphia to Raleigh for the concert. This time Bryan brought his parents, his uncle and aunt, and his niece. In addition to manning the check-in table and seeing to the programs, he once more articulated the special work done by Action to Cure Kidney Cancer and the need for continued research funding for this terrible disease.
Overland Park, KS, June 29
Carole Coulter, a sorority sister of Brenda’s who lives in Overland Park, KS, made the arrangements with Harry Reed for us to play at the Schmitt Music Store nearby as well as with Charlie Frank at Union Station in Kansas City, MO. She and her husband Wayne provided a lovely room and bath for Brenda in their home, while I stayed with Bee Tuttle in Leawood. The following day Bee and I drove to Carole’s for late morning coffee with Brenda’s sorority sisters who had been at a reunion the previous weekend. Mary Boyer from Wichita, who has generously donated by mail from Kansas to our concerts in Guilford every year, made the drive to Kansas City twice in four days to hear us play; Nancy Kinser from Fort Worth, Texas and Nancy Shepard from Kirkwood, MO also stayed over to hear the concert; and Julie Newlin not only stayed around after the reunion, but who took the stage and sang an “encore” from the Theta House song book, Everybody Loves a Lover. Marietta Schreiber was there from Annapolis and Judy Duncan Stanton, Linda Weiss, and Tutie Smith, all from KC, attended the reunion and came to the concert. After the coffee, we all went to lunch!
Brenda’s sister Paula and her husband Bob Peterson drove from Topeka to attend the concert at Schmitt Music Store. And Kay Mehrer, an old friend of Brenda’s from Emporia was there. My dear friend Mary Lou Anderson who lives in Jamestown, KS, spent the weekend with her son Dave and his wife Carol, who live in Overland Park. The three of them attended the Monday evening concert, and we had a wonderful dinner afterwards catching up on “old times.”
Union Station, Kansas City, MO, June 30
Carole Coulter had enlarged our 4-color publicity card in black and white to two different poster sizes and affixed them to foam board. Charlie Frank saw to it that the largest poster sat on a stand at Union Station as you entered the hall. He also provided a microphone with a large speaker. Before the concert, Brenda was very happy to see Judy MacClelland from Carmel, CA. Judy was also in town for the reunion and stayed over. She brought her sister who lives in Independence, KS. The painted piano that I played is a work of art by Charlie Podrebarac, whose mother Mary Jean sat in front and posed for a photo with the piano. Carole’s neighbors Helen Wooster and Sue Irwin were in the audience, along with her friend from church, Marilyn Finan, and other Kansas City friends, Nancy and Howard Ziggenhorn.
Boulder, CO, July 5
Paul Jarvis, the owner of the Boulder Piano Store not only strategically placed both of the posters Carole had made in the store windows, but he also gave us the key to the store so that we could get in on Sunday to get used to the pianos. (The biggest challenge on the trip was dealing with a different piano every time we played.) Many thanks to Marty Williams from Denver (originally Emporia) and her friend Carol who brought the tablecloth, decorations, and refreshments. It was a touching moment when Fran and Dick Gabrielson arrived as Fran and Marty hadn’t seen each other since leaving Emporia in the mid 1950s. Erin and Peter Green, Brenda’s daughter and son-in-law and their children Samantha and Jeremy also brought refreshments as well as two vases of flowers that we set near the pianos. Samantha greeted everyone and handed out the programs. Peter’s parents Irv and Andy Green were there, as well as Sue Iten, the property manager for Brenda’s Denver condo. Sue brought her friend from New Zealand with her.
Thank you everyone for your generosity and your help in making Concerts to Conquer Kidney Cancer a success!