Although Frederica von Stade has given farewell appearances, she is active as ever — just rarely on stage. When last week's column mentioned Cal Performances' music education conference and Flicka's many past activities on behalf of El Sistema-like projects in the Bay Area, she sent a note about being unable to attend because she is on her way to grandmotherly duties with Charlotte, 2 1/2, and six-week-old Emerson [a newborn named Emerson? interesting ...]:
I would so have loved to meet [José Antonio] Abreu. What a magic man he is. I think [Cal Performances Director] Matías [Tarnopolsky] is quite amazing.
Our little music program [at St. Martin de Porres School] is going well and the children are responding and the parents. We have violin up to 2nd grade now, drums, and choir. We are now affilitated with the Oakland Youth Chorus, run by this wonderful lady LaNell Martin. She can get anybody to sing, even a seventh grader. It's a happy association and will have some sustainability which is so important.
Next project after Christmas is to start a little ukele program. One can play a few chords quite easily and it's easy for little hands and fingers. Just have to find a teacher. Do you know of anyone?
I'm still singing here and there but much of the time, I wonder that I was ever an opera singer, especially when I'm with the little grandies! I love this Nanny role more than anything. I'm doing a new piece in Houston in 2013, called A Coffin in Egypt, based on a Horton Foote play with a libretto by Lenny Foglia and music by Ricky Ian Gordon.
Jake [Heggie] asked me to be in his opera for Joyce [DiDonato] the year after that, I'm very excited about both projects. I told them I'll be really old and they all have the options to fire me if nothing comes out of my throat!
Is there such a thing as modest to a fault? See the next item about another important Flicka-sponsored music education project.