Thursday, December 31, 2015

NYC 4Q2015 Miscellany

A few small highlights from the fourth quarter of 2015 in NYC:

  • December 19 - Oh, What Fun! A Philharmonic Holiday at Lincoln Center, with Amanda, Kat, Carolyn, Pat, and Helen.
    • "I'll Be Home for Christmas" - with ASL coming in as a round / harmony / counterpoint.  The phrase "only in my dreams" is punctuated with fingers opening above the head
    • "Sleigh Ride" - nice horsey touches! A neigh at the end, and a metal puppet horse head appears from the back of the orchestra.
    • Supposedly Mariah Carey's All I want for Christmas is you is the THE most requested Christmas song?!
    • Wonderful arrangement of "Happy Holiday" (Berlin, 1942) and "Happy" (Pharrell Williams, 2013) by O. Eldor
    • Conductor Courtney Lewis's introduction to an excerpt from Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel: "While their mom and dad are off to accept their 'Parent of the Year' award..."
    • Eric Owens, bass-baritone, performing "You're a Mean One, Mr Grinch" with relish!
    • NYCGMC came back in, filling the aisles as well as the stage, for the Christmas Carol Sing-Along
  • November 20 - An evening in honor of CJ Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1948) - featuring three Chief Judges (SCOTUS - John Roberts; CTA2 - Katzmann; COA - Lippman)
    • Lots of references to Hughes's trademark facial hair  by three clean-shaven chief judges.
    • All white men.  Hmm.
    • CJ Roberts was the most impressive of the lot, very funny.  And he shone in the interview skirmish with CJ Katzmann (who seemed to try to trip him up a few times; Roberts deftly dodged the traps and teased him a bit, e.g. by using the commonplace term "lower courts" followed by a quick "no offense intended" and then a suggestion that the term "lower" court was actually a gentle euphemism for the term "inferior courts" found in the U.S. Constitution)
    • Roberts claimed that the famous "switch in time that saved nine" was not, in fact, the reason the court-packing scheme came to naught.  His take was that the savvy CJ Hughes played his cards well against a popular President, by attacking the fig leaves of rationale Roosevelt had offered to conceal his naked power grab.  So, before the legislature, Hughes noted that if the concern was that the 9 old men of SCOTUS had a backlog or weren't getting through things quickly enough, adding more justices actually wouldn't help - since they operate by deliberating together, getting more judges would only add more views and more debate would only slow things down.  (I think he also tried to show why the so-called backlog was not, in fact, a backlog, but I don't remember the details on that.)
    • Roberts focused on how politically connected the Supreme Court Justices were, back in the day.  Indeed, early on the justices might have past and future government posts; SCOTUS was not necessarily the capstone to a career.  Hughes could pass up an initial shot at the Supreme Court to be Governor of New York, in order to wait for an appointment where he could be CJ rather than a mere associate.  (It was in this context - and talking about the diplomatic skills needed for CJ - that Katzmann asked "innocently" whether background as US Secretary of State would be helpful  for a Chief Justice; no one mentioned Hillary Clinton by name, but the audience could appreciate the game here.)
    • Roberts also talked about how clerking for Rehnquist exposed him to a particular Swedish-Russian war that Rehnquist was really keen on (Rehnquist and the Russian CJ apparently loved talking about it)... And so when Roberts met his Russian counterpart, he was able to dazzle him by casually offering an opinion about some particular strategic errors in an "obscure" battle.
  • Anna Bolena - October 5 at Lincoln Center.  I splurged on this, tickets right up front in the Orchestra.  I was very excited about it, but the Opera Curse struck me toward the end and my eyelids became very heavy until the finale.