Friday, April 13, 2012

Personal Update (and Mark Janas).

Last week, while on a ship on the other side of the world where Jim was performing Zero Hour, I got word that Mark Janas, my friend, musical mentor and support system for a lot of people on this island, was taken in for brain surgery. Just before we left, he began getting some facial paralysis.

Then, I received notice from Salon producer, Tanya Moberly, informing us he had gone in for brain surgery. There was a tangle of blood vessels on his brain stem, where all the nerves go out to the body -- and that it would only get worse if left untreated. 

He told the surgeon that he was a pianist, and he pleaded that he not lose control of his hands. The surgeon smiled and said he was a bass player, himself, and that he would be very careful.

The surgery was successful and I've spent the last week (along with other friends of Mark's) being with him. His partner, David, is out of state and he asked us not to let him be alone for at least a week.

Happily, Mark has responded to therapy. He's walking much more strongly than before, and though his face is still partially paralyzed, it seems to be responding a little more each day.

As for his playing, it's all there. In fact, like me, he's been up early, in the middle of the night, playing and playing with a passion he says he never felt before. 

So, for friends of Mark who haven't received this news, I'm very sorry to be the bearer of sad news. For everyone, I'm happy to report that he is upbeat, determined and hard to keep down. I've had to give him mini-lectures about allowing us to care for him. About how to be a compliant and healthily responsive patient.

I saw my own endocrinologist and he is thrilled with my progress. I've had no sugar spikes, even with the rich food on the ship. I am doing an injection before every meal, and another at night. I thanked him for his care and he said, "You're the one doing the work."

I've also been speeding up the time table for the New World Waking here in New York. Teaming with the sanctuary choir at Christ Church, Bay Ridge (where Mark is minister of music and I serve as resident composer), along with other friends of Mark's from the cabaret, theater and nightclub community, we are putting together a fundraiser for Mark, so he can continue to recuperate. I know other groups are planning similar shows.

Though it began as a formal concert at Davies Symphony Hall, complete with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and the Women's Community Orchestra, New World waking is now a theatrical concert piece with Andy Gale directing, and Jim Brochu and I revising the book as we go along.

The plan for the show is that it's an ecumenical theatrical event touring churches and synagogues, and any other inviting houses of worship here in the City. I already have commitments from several congregations, plus we're talking to theaters and night clubs around the city. 

If anyone reading this wishes to join us, again, we are only now putting it all together, but you can access a folder with a README file, a script, mp3s, and sheet music to the songs. The set-up is simple. A theatrical concert featuring solos, duets, small groups, backed by the full company. People who wish to participate should go to the folder, choose a couple of solos to learn, and be ready to make up the harmonies on the group songs. We will avoid large group rehearsals and improv the backgrounds during the concert.


Ken McPherson said...

I think that is exactly the right way to go with NWW. Not unlike "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well.."

I remember how much you hated Brel when I gave you the CD. Did it ever grow on you?

Steve Schalchlin said...

Ken I don't think I ever listened to it again. You know I'm a barbarian. I just found it on Spotify. I'll give it another try.

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