Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

It's been interesting to check in with a few of my characters for Frantic. Since I've lost touch with a number of colleagues from the East Coast and Los Angeles over the years, we've had some catching up to do. "What happened to you?" "Where have you been?" "Were you disappeared?" "But Schwarz is gone now, right?" And I remind my interrogators that 2011 is just around the corner. When the curtain lowers after the final act in a year, hopefully the curtain will raise to a new scene. But in the meantime, I try to answer the what, where and why questions with tact and good humor. But, in reality, I know that none of my characters have had their careers turned upside down.

It is not the end of the world to be discriminated against, though, because one has the potential to rediscover oneself. The ability to transform obstacles into opportunities might be empowering, even exhilarating. At least they are for me.

I'm ever so fortunate to be married to a person who is not easily intimidated. I believe a man displays inner security when he surrounds himself with strong, determined women. Now, in my fifties, I have observed that many males prefer the docile, demure type. That's not the case around our house, and for that, I'm grateful. Our daughters, Anna and Sarah, have been encouraged to think and speak for themselves. They are not confined to the boxes of their peers, and I'm proud of them.

Speaking of powerful women, I enjoyed reading the Chicago Tribune's recent article "How Deborah Rutter reeled in a classical music superstar"  about her sealing the deal for Chicago Symphony with Riccardo Muti. Back in the early 80's when I played as an extra for Los Angeles Philharmonic, I remember Deborah Rutter alongside Ernest Fleischmann. He had spotted her uncanny ability and talent for leadership already back then, and took her under his wing. She went on to become executive director of Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

Of course, Deborah (Card) Rutter is remembered and praised for her transformational abilities. A step in the ladder to her dizzying success in orchestra leadership was her stint as executive director of Seattle Symphony from 1992. It was then that the local band grew by leaps and bounds. She helped to revitalize the downtown arts scene with the building of Benaroya Hall in 1998. It might be food for thought that during the 25 plus years of Schwarz leadership, the Seattle Symphony has gone through, what, around ten executive directors? As for Rutter's comparison of Seattle to Chicago: "The air is a lot thinner up here, performing at this absolute pinnacle, which is really exciting because you have fantastic people come here, and you expect fantastic people to come here."

Muti says of Deborah Rutter: "The first important thing about Deborah is that she loves music. She's a woman of great personality, and at the same time, can be strong, and after one second, also charming. She can be deep, and at the same time have a great sense of humor that is very important in life."

All right. I'll make a toast: Here's to Mother's Day, and to all those women who refuse to be mice to men.

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