Hilltop Diary, Feb. 10, 2021

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It has been a good couple of weeks since last I wrote!

A major project of over two years came to a milestone in the form of the now-printed and bound 11 X 17” score and 9.5 X 13”parts for my 45-minute Symphony No. 2 for a large symphony orchestra, shown here. Parts had to be made for all 95 musicians, over a thousand pages worth! Next step is to make the recording of the piece when the orchestra can finally sit safely down together on one stage (fall 2021, we hope).

My humorous column for The Epoch Times this month was a suggestion for a classical playlist people can use if they decide to have a romantic Valentine’s dinner at home instead of dining out. Read it HERE.  As for dinner itself, we have a couple of live lobsters ordered at our nearby Publix seafood counter and will make Rossini cocktails, that’s like a Mimosa or a Bellini, except with strawberries. I’ve never bought live lobsters before and regret having to send the poor critters to lobster heaven before cooking them; it is recommended to pop them into the freezer for ten minutes first, which just puts them to sleep so they feel nothing when you drop them into the boiling water.

I have been asked to increase the number of my Epoch Times articles from one to two per month, starting with another one in February. I guess they have liked my work, so far, and this will of course double my income from them, which is always nice.

Meanwhile, yours truly made it onto the “Classical Valentine Dinner Playlist” on Spotify, YouTube, Amazon, and Apple Music – specifically my “Serenade for Violoncello and Harp,” which I actually wrote as a kind of love serenade for Crystal. It is beautifully performed, of course, by the great Romanian cellist Ovidiu Marinescu (now based in Philadelphia) and the equally world-class, award-winning harpist Rita Costanzi (now based in NYC). You can hear their face-melting solos as they stick it to the man on track one of my album, The Sea Knows, to decide for yourself if it is dinner-worthy.

DSCN7539 (2)We had a major tree event in the form of a gift of a pile of firewood on our driveway, which then got doubled when we hired the donor to do major trimming on our two big oaks and some other trees on our property. Now it remains to me to cut it up further and stack it to use in our fireplace. I bought my first chainsaw and found it much easier to use than I remember using before (these new ones don’t kick back so much), only it may take weeks to get it cut up and stacked, depending on my schedule.

We are hosting a group of “Inklings Jr.” for dinner again this coming Saturday, a group of young men — mostly seniors at Vanderbilt whom I taught during my last few years — who admire J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Those British authors were members of a supper / discussion group called the “Inklings” at Oxford, England. These young gentlemen have now formed a group of their own, complete with some pipe smoking. There is hope for the future!

Kurek Valentines 2014 to 2021

Finally, our annual Valentine card just went out to over a hundred friends (all are people we know in person), which has become an annual tradition for Crystal and me. We dress up in costume as great couples of history and send our Valentine under their names. In past years we have assumed the identities of Jane Eyre and Rochester (2014), Phantom of the Opera and Christine Daae, (2015), Beauty and the Beast (2016), Colonel Brandon and Marianne Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility, 2017), Terry McKay and Nickie Ferrante (An Affair to Remember, 2018), (2019 was a compilation of previous years), Maria and Captain von Trapp (2020), and this year, Clara and The Nutcracker (lower right) (2021).

And with that, I do wish you a lovely Valentine’s Day, whomever you spend it with, if only your cat or dog. Even alone, you can call or send a card this week to friends and family or shut-ins you know, and spread a little cheer.

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