Beryl’s Byways

Beryl had more adventures in New York than we have room for in one or two OLLI Connects articles, so we have taken the liberty of compressing multiple “Byways” into a few OLLI Connects issues.

The “Big Apple” may be the definition of both challenge and opportunity! I’m loving each! On the evening of my arrival on Friday the 15th, Scott (friend from Philadelphia days) and his partner, Hong, had planned a unique dinner experience of “picnic in the park”! After designing our own salads at Chopt Creative Salad Co., we enjoyed people (and dog!) watching in Central Park. No celebrities! Afterward, our stroll included the Met Museum that I had never seen at night! This classically elegant building is even more resplendent at night.

One of the unique experiences here is food shopping which is as exciting as it is expensive. Including a Saturday Farmer’s Market literally on my street (82nd) that was a delight to discover, the stores maximize every inch of space but really include everything and often even choices!

On Sunday, Scott met me for a magnificent Welcome Back Festival Mass at St. Ignatius that was as festive as I’ve ever experienced to the point of tears for me. The music was glorious, and the procession included dancers waving white flags in the gorgeous space above the congregation! Stunning! I was also reminded of the vastness of the New York experience that was evident at the conclusion of the Mass when a parish sponsored (?) immigrant family was introduced and welcomed. The other end of the proverbial spectrum was the reality of a few chauffeurs waiting out front for other parishioners. This parish has it all.

To add to the wonderful day, Scott and I headed down to Herald Square to discover the decadent delight of Anita’s gelato.

Excellence abounds here, and so the arts are a real treat! Going to a recent performance of the New York City Ballet was stunning visually and emotionally. Beginning with an ending, I just lucked into the Farewell Performance of Russell Janzen.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE to see part of the live performance

He’s now turning to a completely new professional pursuit and will complete his Master’s Degree in Social Work to enter that form of service! That’s as dramatic as his excellent final performance that had his audience cheering and crying. So precious to witness!

The ballet, entitled “Jewels”, accented emeralds, rubies and diamonds. Balanchine choreographed each “act” according to the music he associated with the individual gem. Beginning with the intense greens of the “Emeralds”, this “appetizer” set the expectations for boldness and individuality to follow. The grace and physical power of the dancers stretching their bodies almost unnaturally reminded me of all kinds of possibilities that ever exist for us that we sometimes prefer to ignore.

The Stravinsky was a fun, even light-hearted expression with the dancers in bold, “ruby-red” costumes and backdrop. I never “heard” Stravinsky’s music as whimsical, but apparently Balanchine’s friendship with him revealed an inner energy that he was able to translate into unexpected dancing. Fascinating!

Tchaikovsky’s music to accompany diamonds in dance was the classic and elegant conclusion that reminded me of a culmination of a meal that was preceded by especially robust flavors. A friend suggests that she loves the San Francisco Ballet for its artistic athleticism and the New York City Ballet for its joyfulness! I’m ever learning from seasoned, knowledgeable lovers of the arts!

By the way, I’m not a dancer and I’m curious to know what “language” choreographers use to communicate their ideas that become such graceful, intense, elegant, expressive dance movements?

Lincoln Center

Then, the very next morning, I was back at Lincoln Center for the Dress Rehearsal for the Verdi opera, Nabucco. The third of his 31 operas, Verdi was only 29 years old when it premiered in 1842. Verdi regarded it as the beginning of his artistic career. It is set in the time of Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco) during the Babylonian Exile of the Hebrews. In addition to an interesting love triangle, the opera focuses on the plight of these captives who need a hero to save them as their poignant “chorus of the slaves” laments.

A hero indeed surfaces! Would that we could all sing our way into meeting our needs! As you may already know, this stirring chorus was adopted as the “national anthem” by the local audiences who were desperate to be free of the controlling Austrians. It is considered to be the cri de coeur that helped advance the unification of Italy almost 20 years later. It also made Verdi an unexpected hero. Isn’t it true that I when one is needed, a hero surfaces? Today’s unexpected leader is Zelensky!

For access to more culture and other resources, I’m now the proud owner of my very own New York Public library card! Let the possibilities begin!

To add to this week of culture, I’m also delighted to have experienced two spectacular museums: The Met Museum is not just a national treasure, it’s a wonderful madhouse of enthusiastic visitors and helpful volunteers. It was literally teeming with people (as it was teeming with rain outside) on my recent visit. Fortunately, as a member, I can return for many focused visits of treasures including the current and highly praised Manet/Degas!

The Frick Museum on Madison Ave. houses the collection while the original mansion at 1 East 70th is undergoing significant renovation. It became a double delight for me since it included a visit with Boyd Petterson, a Philadelphia friend who, as an architect, has a special eye for experiencing this special collection. He’s visited many times and really knows the collection well, which was a definite advantage for me. My limited contribution was having recently read “The Magnolia Palace”, a historical novel about Helen Clay Frick who helped to advance her father’s intentions for this special museum.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE for a closer look at the Frick Museum on Madison Avenue

I’m thrilled to report that as of this afternoon, the rain has stopped and sunny, cool, autumn days are in the forecast for the week ahead. I was more aggravated than limited by the constant rain but really look forward to the change. I kept singing Annie’s song in my head, “The sun will come out, tomorrow…” Now I can literally change my tune to “Here comes the sun…”!

Next time, I’ll focus on ….  (To be continued)

–Beryl B. Byles, The Adventurer

Beryl B. Byles, MBA University of Dallas, worked as an Executive Coach, specializing in leadership development for senior executives in large corporations, CEO’s of small to mid-sized companies and leaders of non-profit enterprises, challenging and supporting her clients in making growth oriented choices.  She wrote a professional memoir called Authentic Leadership: An Inside Job.  

Beryl ‘s continuing explorations of what life has to offer epitomize what OLLI-USF is all about.


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