Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas 2008

I guess it’s that time when Xmas letter writers look at all the exciting and wonderful things that happened in 2008 and leave out most of the bad stuff that it is best to forget. Aside from the Ayn Rand inspired mental midgetry and greed in Washington that has affected my earnings and put the financial world on a precipice, it was a pretty successful year for us.

The big news was the launching of the music of Irene’s father, Alfred Tokayer. The yellowing manuscripts that had been sitting in a box since 1943 when he was deported from Drancy, have come to life. A CD was produced of selected compositions and eight concerts were performed in Europe; three in Paris, three in German cities, one in our town, Rieux and finally in Orleans. Another concert was put on in Seattle by our friends, Karen and Doug (Doug came all the way from Seattle to attend the Rieux concert here). Additional concerts are planned early next year for Bucharest, Vienna and Auschwitz with others to follow. Irene has invested a tremendous amount of time and effort in research and working with the musicians to bring this about. She has also become part of the travelling road show, being interviewed in each city for television and the press, talking before audiences, and translating documents for releases in three languages. The audiences have been consistently enthusiastic, the CD’s are selling and a book is currently being co-authored by Dr Philipe Olivier and Dr Amaury du Closel, Deracinements that will include an essay on Alfred Tokayer.I attended several concerts and been much in the background, in fact at a concert in Schwerin, Germany a friend of ours was introduced on television as Irene’s husband. In short this year has been exhausting for Irene but also immensely satisfying in that his music has been revived, enthusiastically received by performers and audiences, and will live on.

I should add that this all started when Peter and Cathy about two years ago took out a few old manuscripts, tried playing some, liked what they heard, and supported mom in starting this process.

Catherine and her two sons, Jack and Ben spent a full school year here in her home nearby in Azille, from September of last year to July this year. Cathy’s partner and the children’s father David Weenen visited on two occasions and with Cathy attended one of the Paris concerts. A busy and successful building contactor his visits were brief because of his business commitments. Cathy and the boys were a regular part of our life here and it was a great pleasure for us. In July they returned home on the Queen Mary from Cherbourg to New York, a very exciting experience for the kids that they will never forget.

Other events? The pleasure of visits here by sons’ David and Peter, Peter’s son Bret and daughter Zoe and daughter in law Brenda, time with our many friends here, a visit to Canada, Florida and New Haven to spend time with my sisters and friends, plus attend to some business. Otherwise each year, this part of France has so much to offer in terms of its sheer beauty, clean air, the sea, the mountains and open spaces that we walk each day in, great food and open markets, jazz and classical concerts everywhere, my garden where I grow everything and of course the company of our beloved dog.

I should add something that is apparent to most of you; I enjoy spending a lot of time corresponding via the internet plus occasionally ranting in my blog when I have some thoughts about how this world is being run. Irene who two years ago vowed never to use a computer is now becoming a regular user with regular correspondence with her friends and her musician associates, plus translations and research to do.

The year ahead? More of the same I guess. The economic outlook looks brutal and it is predictable that this will manifest itself with a lot of unhappiness, anger and social unrest. Bush and his rabble gone and Obama arriving gives me some hope for a new direction. This is probably the best place for old guys like us to sit it out.

Enjoy the Season

Don and Irene