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COLUMN: A Senior Moment with Barry ZeVan: The Orchestra is Back and Thoughts on Eydie Gorme

Updated: 02/18/2014 9:25 AM
Created: 01/15/2014 11:14 AM KSTP.com
By: Barry ZeVan

In my opinion, and in the opinion of many, I'm certain, we can now honestly state it IS a Happy New Year. Apologies for my exuberance, but I may have broken my hip-replacement doing a super-happy dance upon just learning our superb treasure, The Minnesota Orchestra, will be performing again beginning in early February. I think my mega-smiles are shared by not only hundreds of thousands of us here in Minnesota, but throughout much of the music world, all OVER the world. Ever since a London newspaper music critic labeled The Minnesota Orchestra the "best in the world" two or three years ago, what we all knew to be true was internationally re-validated.

Without yet knowing if Maestro Vanska will be back to wield his world-class baton, I was told a few minutes ago (after hearing the good news about the orchestra being back in business) the consensus is he will be back with the orchestra permanently, resuming "speed" with the best in the business, those magnificent musicians who have the respect and cheering section of countless others of world-class in their profession.

As I had written several weeks ago, Representative Phyllis Kahn and I had the same idea to give the orchestra re-birth by suggesting all citizens of Minnesota could become Orchestra owners, similar to The Green Bay Packers ownership by their fans. Representative Kahn had the idea ten years ago regarding the Minnesota Twins, then resurrected it regarding saving The Minnesota Orchestra. I had the idea while talking with the Orchestra's premiere trumpetmeister, Manny Laureano, who I'm honored to state, has been a longtime good friend to yours truly. As I had stated previously in this space several weeks ago, Manny and I were having lunch a few months ago, and I suggested the Green Bay Packers ownership model to Manny, not knowing about Representative Kahn's similar idea until I read it in the Star Tribune a few days after I'd mentioned my thoughts to Manny. Representative Kahn and I then had lunch a few days later to discuss our mutual thoughts and possible stratagems. Now those thoughts and stratagems may be happily moot points, but strong action was ready for a very strong "reveal", very soon. 

Bottom line: As one reporter stated on a television newscast a few minutes ago, "Neither side got all they wanted", but at least they finally reached a deal. It will be a joy to see the newly-revamped Orchestra Hall in use, not only as it was intended, but also just in use! Bravo and brava to all Orchestra members whose perseverance "stuck with it" to see the Orchestra's resurgence and to those in management who finally saw the light regarding the fact our Orchestra is far from ordinary, and a very-needed part of the fabric of these Cities, our state and region. The Minnesota Orchestra's light is among the brightest cultural stars to ever shine in the music firmament, and we're blessed to know we can again resume enjoying their excellence. Congratulations to all. 

Eydie Gorme anecdote, and previously "promised" - Even though it's been months since we sadly lost the delightful and engaging pop chanteuse, I thought it might be fun to share my "sideline" association regarding Ms. Gorme: While her passing this past October was sad, I warmly remember being in the audience one Friday night in the early 1950s for “The Steve Allen Show,” telecast live from one of NBC-TV's satellite television production theaters near Columbus Circle. It was the night Steve had both Eydie and her future husband, Steve Lawrence, as guests on Steve's show, the precursor to The Tonight Show. It was the first time Steve and Eydie had met, and the rest, as they say, is history.

My high school pals and I went to Steve's show on occasional Friday nights as "guests" because we were in "the business," thus saw television history, of which we were blessed to be a part, being made. In the case of Steve and Eydie, that was truly the case. Some of us high school pals who made those visits were Leslie Uggams (then known as Leslie Uggams Crane), Elliott Gould, Kenny Walken (Christopher Walken's older brother) and several others who later "made it" very well in "the biz." I still keep in touch with some of them, and they don't hang up! Fun memories. 

SIDEBAR: During those high school years, even though professionally acting on a few TV series, my mom encouraged me to make some extra bucks on weekends, and I wound up working as a "car monitor" for a Bronx apartment building garage on Saturday nights (for a couple months). Whose car was I urged to especially watch with care? Eydie Gorme's! I never met her, but it was fun to know her car was never scratched nor stolen, not on MY watch, and that I'd been in the audience the night she met Steve. 

DELMER DAVES - An anecdote or two, next time, about the only Director Jack Warner ever kept under contract for life, and Mr. Daves's kindnesses to yours truly, from Jackson Hole, Wyo., to visits at his home at 107 North Bentley Avenue in West L.A. 

Thanks for taking the time to read these geezer thoughts and memories and a belated Happy New Year.

Barry ZeVan is a columnist for KSTP.com.


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