Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

(Hey Mom and Gina! Just a warning that you might need a tissue . . . or a box of them . . . to read this. I know this because I know you both well but also because I'm crying, and I just wrote the first sentence and stuck in the first picture. And if I'm crying, I know you are, too. Love you!)

There are a number of incredible women in my life. I count it one of the greatest blessings to have been calling one of them "Mom" for the past 26 years.

My mom is a source of constant inspiration and entertainment. She is a talented, accomplished, confident, incredible woman who isn't afraid to ask anyone for anything . . . so long as it's for someone else. Over the years, we've taken more trips together than I can count, singing our way to North Carolina or Georgia or Alabama, covering such classics as "Rubbernecking" and "Merge to the Right." (Don't worry if you don't recognize them. They don't get much radio play.) We can laugh or cry at the drop of a hat, and she gives the best hugs in the world. She has taught me so much, more than I realize probably, but here are a few of my favorites:

*Costumes make life so much more fun. (Once, she arrived at my school while dressed as a leprechaun. As a seventh grader, I was mortified. As a 26-year-old, I suspect when I have a 12-year-old, this scene may be repeated. Maybe not a leprechaun, though . . .)

As Drusilla and Queen Elsa in Cinderella.
January 2012
During our October 2011 cruise to Bermuda.
At Stages for a fitting for my Viennese Winter Ball Gown and stilt pants.
January 2012
*Making up words is okay as long as you explain yourself. And if you want to put the storage shed in the truck, that's quite all right.

*Your brother will always be there for you, even if he's a goober.

*Your family are the most important people. They love you no matter what. (This is true of our family, strange as we all are.)

*Love. My mom has the biggest heart of everyone I know. I say this confidently because I've seen her share her love with everyone she meets.

Clearly, my mother is amazing and beautiful and spectacular and all sorts of adjectives. She's also my best friend, and I am so grateful that God made her my mother.

Of course, it wouldn't be a proper Mother's Day celebration without sharing the other mothers in my life.

When I went away to college, I made a dear friend whose family took me in as one of their own. I lived with them one summer and spent many a happy weekend lazing around the goat farm. And now I get to call this lovely lady my other mother:

With Gina at Ilana's wedding.
February 2012 / Winfield, AL
Then, there are my two golden grandmas, Beverly and Donna, who have been the absolute best grandmas a girl could imagine. They've taught me to crochet and cross stitch and cook and been generally doting as grandmas tend to do. Last year, we went on a cruise together. Now in their seventies, they're as lively as ever.

With Gram (Beverly) at dinner theatre in Baltimore, MD.
On the cruise with Grandma (Donna) en route to Bermuda.
Happy Mother's Day to my many marvelous mothers! Your love, encouragement, and inspiration have made me the woman I am today. Thank you for sharing yourselves with me. I love you!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

On Touring with Mimes . . . or Music, Noise & Silence

Last month, as part of my still-rather-new position as Education Coordinator with the Wheeling Symphony Society, I spent the better part of a week on a mini-tour with the orchestra and a pair of mimes from Magic Circle Mime Company. Over four days, we presented seven concerts in four venues before nearly 6000 audience members, most of them elementary school students and many of whom had never seen a symphony concert before. This is the Wheeling Symphony's annual Young People's Concert Tour, an education outreach program that, for 75 years, has taken symphonic music to children who might never have another opportunity to see the orchestra perform.

Maestro Andre Raphel conducts the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra.
 Metropolitan Theatre in Morgantown, WV. Thursday, April 19, 2012
Sara Mountjoy-Pepka and K. Brian Neel brought to life the three meddlesome spirits of Music, Noise and Silence, whose antics showered the concert hall with quiet, chaos, and finally, harmony with a program featuring the works of Bach, Grofe, Mendelssohn, and others. Offstage, they were more charming than their characters. I enjoyed an afternoon of shopping at my favorite costume shop with them (by coincidence - because it's the place to go) and that bruschetta at The Metropolitan. Yum!

Silence conducts the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra in Strauss's Pizzicato Polka.
Metropolitan Theatre, Morgantown, WV. April 19, 2012.
Silence triumphantly finishes Pizzicato Polka.
Metropolitan Theatre, Morgantown, WV. April 19, 2012.
Noise "tiptoes" across the stage, upsetting the maestro with his raucous ways.
Metropolitan Theatre, Morgantown, WV. April 19, 2012.
Noise enjoys a cup of tea while listening to the orchestra perform Charles Ives' Country Band March.
Metropolitan Theatre, Morgantown, WV. April 19, 2012.
Music arrives to save the concert hall from chaos.
Metropolitan Theatre, Morgantown, WV. April 19, 2012. 
Noise attempts to hide the evidence of his antics from Music.
Washington Park Middle School, Washington, PA. April 17, 2012.
Noise is caught!
Metropolitan Theatre, Morgantown, WV. April 19, 2012.
Brian, Maestro Raphel, and Sara take a bow.
Washington Park Middle School, Washington, PA. April 17, 2012.
The orchestra got into the fun and bombarded Brian with a shower of crumpled paper to drive him off the stage at the final performance. Don't worry - they were supposed to - their energy was infectious! Even the maestro embraced his inner mime and hit his nose on the wall Silence built across the stage!

At the end of the tour, Brian gave me a lopsided moustache by which always to remember this most magical experience (and then included me in his poetic redux of the tour):

Thank you, Brian and Sara, for a spectacular show on the road. (and for introducing me to Book-It!)