Category Archives: Mysteries

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Greetings all!

I’ve been asked and accepted the position of choral director for the Georgia Ambassadors of Music for their European tour this summer. Many of you know that I was choral director for four tours with the Oklahoma Ambassadors of Music (1999, 2001, 2003, and 2005), the last two as Tour Director.

The Tour Director for the Georgia group is my friend Dr. Joe Brashier who is also Director of Bands at Valdosta State University. Also part of the tour faculty is another friend, Mr. Eric Bradshaw, Director of Athletic Bands at VSU. We rehearse in Atlanta beginning on June 6; we depart for London on June 9, and return home on June 24.

It’s a European sampler with three days each in London, Paris, Crans Montana, Switzerland, Seefeld, Austria (side trip to Venice), and Rothenburg, Germany. I’ve done this same tour four times before and I was surprised and pleased that the city coordinators in each location are basically the same as they were even back in 1999. It will be nice to renew old friendships.

The last time I took the Oklahoma group, we had five busses and a trailer. Georgia will only have one bus, so it should be a bit easier. If asked, I hope to build the choir for the next tour in 2016.

I will try to provide updates and photos through this blog as we proceed on the tour.

Meanwhile, Alek was here for a brief visit last week. He’s off now visiting his wife Daniela in Madison, WI where she is singing the leading role in Jake Heggie’s opera, “Dead Man Walking.” Alek will get to see the final dress before heading to Los Angeles where he sings Ferrando in “Cosi fan tutte” with Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic. Finally, Daniela and Alek will meet up again and spend the summer together in Santa Fe where Dani is singing the title role in Carmen and Alek sings Ernesto in Don Pasquale. We’ll be visiting in early July and I’ll try to provide reports.

For me, the school year is winding down with a successful face-to-face class in Creativity and two online classes: Music Appreciation and The Development of Rock and Roll. I’m enjoying my role as Program Coordinator in the Honors College and have spent a considerable amount of time dealing with the curriculum.

Moxie is due for her summer cut in a week or so as it is starting to get really warm here now. In fact, I’m writing this poolside from the summer office. I hope everyone is having a splendid spring. Cheers! – Jim

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Saint Paddy’s Day!
The Annual Spring Training Trip Is Off to an Auspicious Beginning!

OK, let’s talk some spring training baseball!

So, in January I order my tickets getting almost exactly the seats that I want. Since I always go to the Saint Pat’s Day game, this year I splurge and order a kelly green Phillies cap from the official Phillies team store. I made my reservations at one of my favorite hotels very close to the stadium. All was right in the world.

The day (today) dawned with a torrential downpour in Valodsta. The weather app said 90% chance of rain in Clearwater – but I’ve got my green baseball cap that I can only wear to ONE game — today! Surely the skies will clear by the time I drive the four hours to Clearwater …

I say my homefront goodbyes, fill the Soul up with gas, drop Moxie off at the kennel, and hit the drive-through for a large Mickey D’s coffee. It’s 8:20 AM, the game starts at 1:05 PM and I’m trying to generate reverse rain dances in my head!

OMG, but did it rain — ALL THE WAY!

So, I finally make it to the thin strip of highway called the causeway that takes me across the bay to Clearwater. All around me – empty beaches, empty outdoor restaurants, no joggers, no bikers – just very slow drivers giving me plenty of time to think about what to do this afternoon, because there will obviously be NO baseball!

Leaving the causeway and entering the eastern edge of Clearwater, I decide to go ahead to Bright House Field thinking, beyond hope, that the Phillies may have lost their minds and still intend to play the game.

At times like this, my thoughts turn to lots of wishful positives: my seat is under the overhang and the rain probably won’t get to me; the players get paid a lot of money and what’s a little water to them; and most of all – I really want an authentic Philly Cheese Steak for lunch!

As I approach the field on Old Coachman Road, I see several things that fill my heart with joy. There are people in green Phillies garb walking, in the rain, towards the stadium. Speaking of the stadium, I look from afar and, lo and behold, the stadium lights are blazing – my hope soars! The policeman (in heavy rain gear) directs me into the parking lot where I shell out my ten dollars and receive my non-refundable parking ticket with instructions to display it on my dashboard. They would never make me pay ten dollars to park if the game wasn’t on! All is right in the world!

Did I mention that it was still raining?

I’m directed by several rain-gear clad parking attendants to a soggy spot that, by my careful calculations, was the farthest one from the stadium.

But the lights were on, the fans were here, I had my ticket, AND I had my brand new green cap! I snatched my hooded jacket from the back seat, put on my cap, covered it as much as possible and opened the door ready to fight the rain all the way to the field.

At that moment, the best omen of all appeared. As I turned to begin my watery trek, there stood the free shuttle ready to transport me (dryly) right to the entrance gate. Now I knew we were going to see some baseball. There might be a rain delay, but I was willing to wait until the cows came home! Afterall, I had a new green cap!

I wasn’t even concerned when, upon alighting from the shuttle, there seemed to be a line of people walking AWAY from the gate. I transferred my ticket from my jeans pocket to my jacket pocket, trying to keep it as dry as possible, ready to have it scanned and then make my way to my seat.

Then the ticket guy broke my heart! The game had just been cancelled! But, ,,, but, … I, … I just drove four hours in the rain to get here, AND I bought a green cap! He just nodded and pointed to the line forming at the ticket windows where we could process a ticket exchange or refund.

I waited patiently in line and found out that my ticket would be good for another game this spring (not possible for me) or a game next spring. Once next year’s schedule was out, I could mail my ticket to them with my choice of games and they would send me a replacement ticket. Oh well, …

I decided that I would not wait for the shuttle to take me back, but allow the rain to drown my sorrow and walk all the soggy way back to the Soul! The selfie that accompanies this saga captures a moment from that walk of disappointment!image

(I meant this expression to reflect my extreme disappointment.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be a Miley Cyrus impersonation!  Sorry …)

Needless to say, when I got to the car, I was soaked. So was my CAP! The good news is that I’m sure it will dry out by next spring!

So, I checked in to the hotel, turned on the TV to watch a spring training game from the exceedingly dry Cactus League in Arizona, and sat listening to the rain pelt the window.

Tomorrow is supposed to be my beach day. The weather forecast says 73 degrees with intervals of clouds and sunshine. We’ll see …

Then Wednesday, I’ll drive over to Dunedin, FL to watch the Phillies take on the Toronto Blue Jays – if it doesn’t rain!

Keep your fingers crossed for me. -Jim

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Filed under Choral, Mozart, Mysteries, Opera, Thrillers, Uncategorized

Here we go again!

Good morning!

It’s a somewhat chilly day for South Georgia – only about 60 degrees with a bit of a wind. Moxie is basking in the sun while I’m sitting at the patio table under the bright purple umbrella! It’s spring break time at the university, so I thought this might be a good time to resurrect the ol’ Word Press blog. Monday morning Moxie and I leave for my annual spring training baseball trip to Clearwater to catch a few Phillies games. I’ll see the Orioles on Monday and the Blue Jays on Wednesday. On Tuesday, we’ll take in the beach and other attractions at Pier 60. This is the fourth year for the trip. The first was with just Aija, then the next year with Aija, Dorothy and Scott, then last year it was with Alek. This year, no fam could go with me, so Moxie generously agreed to keep me company, although she can’t go to the game! Another highlight of the trip is to partake of my annual scrapple fix at Lenny’s restaurant which is a slice of Pennsylvania hidden in Clearwater. If you don’t know about scrapple, you’re missing a Pennsylvania Dutch delicacy! At Lenny’s, it’s the real thing, just like home!

I’ll close with some brief updates.

Nick Flemons is still stuck in second gear while I suffer from the greatest case of writer’s block on record. I’m sensing just a twinge of the possibility of coming out of it as my thoughts seem to return to the story more often than before. Maybe I’ll figure it out and, in a mad flurry of writing activity, finish the damn thing!

I’ve published another choral piece – “Love Came Down at Christmas.” It’s with Colla Voce, Inc. out of Indianapolis. I’ve submitted two others, “The Truth from Above” and “When Christ Was Born of Mary Free.” I’m waiting on the editorial board to see if they’re accepted. I have another one ready to submit – “A Boy Was Born,” which is, more or less, an homage to Benjamin Britten. I seem to be always working on a really short opera project, gravitating back and forth from Ankou to The Bundle of Sticks to a new idea I had from an internet microfiction site.

While I am retaining my professorship in the Department of Music, I have moved over to the Honors College where I am Program Coordinator and working with the Honors curriculum. I’m teaching my usual online music appreciation and rock & roll classes, plus an Honors Introductory Seminar focused on Creativity! It looks like I’ll have exactly the same assignments in the fall.

Approaching the ripe old age of 66, I’m hoping to put in four more years in the academic saddle before sitting by the pool like this on a regular basis! I promise to make an attempt to not bore you. So, having said that, I’ss see you later – online! Cheers! -Jim

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April 12, 2013

This is a test. I’m about to revive my blogging for the summer and I’m making sure the Word Press site is still functional.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Greetings everyone!

I’m afraid the beginning of classes last week precluded any blogging on my part. With three new preparations, I lived, for a while, in the syllabus and course outline paradigm. I think the classes are all now working smoothly, but the closet/office is still so cluttered with boxes that it would get high ratings on an episode of Hoarders! Office organization is is definitely on the agenda for this week. The most unfortunate aspect in the school start-up is that work on Twin Killing has almost come to a complete halt. Just when the chilly relationship between Nick and Charlie begins to thaw just a bit, and the good guys are starting to sniff out the trail of the real crime, things come to an abrupt stop. I’m hoping to find some time this week to move the story forward. I have about 100 pages so far with maybe 200 more to come.

Meanwhile, our version of an Italian Villa here in South Georgia is still in summer mode. In spite of school, I did hit the pool twice this week. The rain still comes about 4 pm, so there’s not much grilling going on. Aija is back from England and Alek will stop in for a few days in early September before heading to the Met for the fall season.

Composing has taken a back seat to professoring and authoring right now, but I still get occasional ideas and I know one day one of them will take root.  I’ll close, as always, with a TK snippet, this time from the bad guys point of view. Bennie Cozzi, Bonacci’s chief Lieutenant is helping to plan the next attempt to kill ball player Shane Hovis.

     “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and asking around about this Hovis. I discovered that he has a girlfriend.”
     “So Mrs. Bonacci was simply a diversion for him.”
     “It would seem so.”
     “He’s even more despicable than I thought. I want him dead.”
     “Okay. The girlfriend’s name is Hatfield Yager. They call her Hattie. Her family is loaded, from the main line in Philly. Here’s my idea: let’s grab her and get Hovis to give himself up for her release.”
     “That’s good thinking, Benjamin, but it will take time to get the job done that way. I’m tired of this situation, let’s just take care of it now. I saw in the morning paper that the Phillies are playing in Tampa this afternoon. Take Nathaniel and Louis and create a welcome home party for Mr. Hovis when he returns from the game. I think a near fatal drug overdose may have caused Mr. Hovis to fall from his seventh floor balcony, don’t you?”
     Cozzi chuckled, “You know those rich ball players, Mr. B., always living on the wild side! I’ll take care of it and this time I’ll make sure it’s done right.”
     “No rough stuff. It must be perceived as an accident. No bruises, contusions, or scratches. Just an injection and then over he goes.”
     “Got it,” said Cozzi standing, starting to leave.
     “Oh, and Benjamin, I think Louis should help Mr. Hovis over the rail. That will atone for his miss yesterday.”
     “Whatever you say, Mr. B., and, thanks for the lunch. 
     As Bennie Cozzi left the pool area, he passed the pool boy, and couldn’t help but notice the significant bandage around his left hand. Meanwhile, Lester Bonacci lit up a Cohiba and settled in to enjoy the glorious Florida sunshine.

 

Have a wonderful week!  I’ll see you online!  -Jim

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August 19, 2012 · 11:26 pm

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Happy August! I’ve been glued to the Olympics most of the week, but managed to move Twin Killings forward to almost 23,000 words. It’s back to work tomorrow morning, so I’ll do my best to write and compose during non-busy office hours. It looks like some of us will be moving to another building for the spring term, so I’m not doing a lot of unpacking – just what I need. It’s been raining at about 4 pm every day this week, so I’ve been switching the writing office from poolside to inside a lot. Here’s latest:

 

Composition: Absolutely no productivity this week, but some thinking of projects to work on or begin. I think the musical atmosphere at work is more conducive to composing. Meanwhile, I hope you will peruse my Colla Voce catalog and consider using the free pdf scores.


Mozart Book: It’s HERE! This week I received my author copies of the book. Here is the citation:


Shrader, James. The Choruses in Mozart’s Opere Serie. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2012.
ISBN-13: 978-0-7734-2928-4


As I reported last week, I’m considering looking to another non-fiction project concerning the choruses in Rossini’s serious operas which would seem to be the next logical step. Non-fiction works require months, if not years, of research, so I need to prioritize how I want to spend my time. I’ll keep you informed. Here are some shots of the book:



 


Twin Killing – We’re moving into what might be considered Act Three. I’ve got about 23K words in, which is about 96 pages. We’re breaking the ice in the relationship between Detective Charlotte Laster and Nick Flemons. They’re finally working together to thwart the second attempt of the Bonacci gang to assassinate Phillies center fielder Shane Hovis. Here’s a brief snippet:


     Laster was prevented from answering by the arrival of two great looking salads. When the waitress left, Charlie continued. “We interviewed the security personnel at the stadium and turned up one Elijah Placke. His daughter, Aisha, was taken off the street Friday after school. To get her back, he had to put the rifle in 212, open the window, and make a copy of his pass key.”
     “Wow! This is definitely a mob hit. Hey, will you start eating, I’m starving.”
     “My, my, a Yankee with manners.”
     “Don’t start that. I’m just trying to make a good impression.”
     “Well, you’re on the right track.”
     “Aw shucks, ma’am.”
     They both took a few bites of salad then Nick asked, “So, what happened to Aisha?”
     “They brought her back about 3:30 pm this afternoon. Dropped her off a block from her house. She was hooded or blindfolded throughout the whole thing. The only help she could give us was that she was put in a gray van with a sliding door. Hulet is taking the whole family to a safe house where we’ll keep two officers on twenty-four, seven.”
     “Did Mr. Placke cooperate?” Nick continued to put away his salad.
     “Yes, he was so nervous in the interview that he cracked right away. Even though his daughter is safe, he’s still scared shitless. He couldn’t tell us anything either. They called him and told him they had Aisha. He was supposed to make a copy of his key and leave it on his back porch. After they got the key, they called him again and told him they put a rifle on the porch and that he was supposed to put it in 212. Elijah, Carmella, his wife, and Aisha will stay under our protection until we figure this out.”
     “We’ve got to do the same for Hovis.”
     “There you go again, you’re very quick with the ‘we’ word, sergeant.”
     “Look, detective, how long would it have taken you to figure this out if you hadn’t accepted my invitation for dinner tonight? I earned a spot on the team. Besides, I’m the perfect combination of baseball and law enforcement. I can get inside that clubhouse.”
     Laster pulled out her badge and held it up, “This will get me into anything.”


That’s all for now. I hope you have a great week. I’d appreciate a comment or two and more Twitter followers @kleaspop. So, I’ll see you online!  -Jim

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Sunday, July 29,2012

Happy last Sunday in July!

It’s been an interesting few days. My summer vacation is coming to an end. As I related last post, I’ve got three new preparations to get ready: Computers in Music; Intro to Music (Music Appreciation) with a new text book; and Intro to Music Online (with yet a different text book). In addition, I’m teaching the Freshman Orientation Seminar (How to be Successful as a Music Major), a graduate independent study on Opera Performance Practice, and, if I have any hours left, a voice student or two. I’ll go to the office for a few hours on Wednesday to begin getting organized.

>Composition: I’m looking forward to installing Finale 2013 on my laptop. It’s probably time for me to do another composition based on a Gregorian chant. That means it’s time to spend some hours with the good old liber usualis. I’ve told you already about my Missa Dominator Deus, but I do enjoy using chant manuscripts as a cantus firmus when planning a new composition. I should also delve back into the Breton opera Ankou. Although I don’t have the Scene Three libretto yet, I have plenty to do on Scenes One and Two. I keep waffling on the orchestration because I compose directly into the orchestration and then make the piano reduction. If I change my mind on instrumental timbre or orchestra size, I sometimes create problems for myself. But, enough shop talk!

Mozart book: Tick Tock Tick Tock. Still waiting … I guess it’s time to see where they are in the production process.

Twin Killing: I had some really good days this week, cranking out about 2,000 words. Then two things happened, it began to rain every day at exactly 4 pm, and the Olympics arrived! At least I’m over 20K now and moving into a time when the relationship between Nick Flemons and Detective Charlie Laster will begin to unfold. Very brief snippet this week, I suspect I’m telling you the whole story and that will never do!

In this brief phone conversation, Nick is trying to promote an idea he has which seems to be contrary to the official police investigation. How better to do it than over dinner …

Charlie got to her office and picked up the phone, “Laster.”
“Hi, Flemons here – don’t hang up! I know I’m supposed to stay out of the case, but I can’t help thinking about it. I have an idea that I think you will find very interesting.”
“Look, Flemons – “
“Just hear me out, and how about Nick, okay?”
“I’m in the middle of interviewing a very important witness, doing real police work, and you want to waste my time listening to a figment of your imagination?”
“Okay, okay, I get it. Look, I haven’t eaten all day, how ’bout meeting me at Carrabbas on Gulf to Bay, close to my hotel, and I lay out my thoughts. If I can’t convince you that this idea has merit, I’ll go hang out on the beach until you release me as a witness. I know you’ll have a good time because you’ll get to yell at me some more plus have a free dinner at my expense. So, in thirty minutes, I’m going over there, I’m gonna have a beer and an appetizer and wait until either you show up or they close. How’s that for a deal?”
“Don’t hold your breath, … Nick.” She hung up the phone and returned to the interview room.

;

Well, that should do it for now. It’s interesting to me that lots of folks seem to post on Facebook all day every day. It seems to indicate that many people either have a lot of time on their hands or that they feel the world is waiting, with baited breath, for the next bloviation. I wouldn’t change it for the world because I find it very entertaining. I suppose the same could be said of my drivel that appears regularly in this series of posts. The most prolific posters are those who proselytize their religious and/or political viewpoints. I have two statements that immediately make me an outcast to all proselytizers: 1) I prefer bells & smells to hum & strum, and 2) I am a registered independent who is actually a pro-choice Republican. Both of those seem to get me into enough trouble that nobody wants to talk to me about religion or politics, at least not in the deeeeeep south! Well, now that I’ve pulled my own string, I better vamoose! Have a great week, go USA, and I’ll see you online! -JAS

PS. It would be great if a comment or two would arrive. Cheers!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Happy almost mid-week!

I had to miss my regular Sunday blogging time this week, so I’ll catch up here. We had a great celebration with the in-law family last week. Brother-in-law, Sister-in-law, and Niece all enjoyed an extended stay at the Shrader’s Italian Villa B&B! Mother-in-law (a permanent resident) was overjoyed to have her family all together at the same time. To top it off, the Daughter-in-law was stunning as Cherubino in Nozze di Figaro at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland. Thanks to Medici TV, I was able to watch the telecast live! It all was an in-law extravaganza! I am so honored to be part of this group of extraordinary people. Of course, Son singing at Glyndebourne Festival and Daughter administrating at the Caramoor Festival is also pretty exciting. It’s a wonderful life!

I actually spent some time in the closet that serves as my new office yesterday. How the mighty have fallen! But it’s fine …  I needed to communicate with my online students about a variety of registration issues to make sure they have access to the proper course content. Today I’ll set up the poolside office and try to spend some time seeing what Nick Flemons is up to. I’m excited about the Olympics opening this weekend, so that may take away from writing time as well.

The new school year starts on August 1 and classes begin on August 13. I’ve got three new preparations this semester, so I’ll be pretty busy getting ready to go.

OK, updates:

Choral – nothing new. I’m looking through some older manuscripts to see whether they might become part of the free PDF catalogue. If you, or your choir director are interested in performing those compositions, contact me at jashrader@gmail.com.

Mozart book – still at printers as far as I know. I’m hoping that a package will arrive soon with some copies for me. I was offered an advance from Mellen, so when the book is in print, I’ll turn to that issue. That money is earmarked for the “puppy” fund. One thing that came to mind when attending the Caramoor Festival a few weeks ago, was the idea for a second non-fiction book on the Choruses in Rossini’s Serious Operas. I would be a logical next step as Rossini bridged the gap from serious opera to Romantic verismo. It’s just a question of whether I have the research chops to undertake another major project.

Twin Killing – of course I didn’t accomplish as much as I had hoped, especially with guests in the villa. Plus, I find myself re-reading and editing as I go despite the promise to myself to push to the end and THEN do all that stuff. The case, at this point, has broken down into three distinct areas: 1) Nick has an idea that the beer vendor was not the actual target; 2) Laster, Hulet, and the cops are interviewing the stadium security personnel; and 3) Lester Bonacci and his gang are trying to come up with plan B to get Shane Hovis, since plan A failed.

The snippet today has to do with the cops interviewing the security people at the stadium. They find an interesting subject in Elijah Placke who has some startling revelations for them, Enjoy …

     Placke took some deep breaths and began to tell his story. “Yesterday, about 3:30 pm, I got a call on my cell phone. The team was over in Orlando, so I was at home. The voice on the phone said, ‘Listen carefully. We have your daughter. We will return her unharmed if you do exactly as you’re told.’  I’ll never forget those words or the sound of that voice.
     
     He told me that I was to get my pass key to the private suites copied. Later that night, I should put the key on the steps to my back porch. He said that if I called the police or looked out a window to try to identify him, I would never see Aisha again. When he had the key, he would call again. He said he would put a rifle on the porch and I was to take it inside. Then, early the next morning, I was to sneak the rifle into suite 212, and lock the door. I asked about Aisha. He said if I did everything, she would be returned to us after the game. I asked if I could speak to her, but he hung up.”
     
     “How old is Aisha?” Laster asked.
     
     “She’s only seven. She was scared out of her mind.”
     
     “You say that like she was returned.”
    
      “Oh yes, she was. About two o’clock, she was dropped off at a corner two blocks from our house. My wife, Carmella saw her walking home and ran to bring her inside. Carmella called me right away.”
     
     “So, if Aisha was safe, why didn’t you just tell us all about it?”
     
     “I was afraid. I’m probably going to jail for my part in this and if I said anything to you, my family would be in danger again. They got to us once, they can do it again.”
     
     “Elijah, as I said, we can help you here. I’m afraid I’ll need to talk to Aisha down at the station. Officer Johnson will go to your home and pick up Aisha and Carmella and bring them down.  You ride with Sergeant Hulet and me and we’ll all meet up at headquarters. You have been very helpful and cooperative. I’ll make sure the DA knows that when we start thinking about charges. Call Carmella and tell her what’s happening and then let’s go.”

***
That’s all for now. Please share this blog with anyone who may have an interest in any of my ongoing projects. I hope to get back to the Sunday blog schedule this week, so until then, I’ll see you online! -JAS

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