by Danny & Terry Gaisin
Mar. 4, ’18
Last evening the Oakville Chamber Orchestra presented an evening of vocal and instrumental classics. Works by Tchaikovsky and Schumann were to be highlighted. No doubt, conductor Charles Demuynck would have prefaced the former’s ‘Serenade for Strings’ by explaining the sonatina format, and undoubtedly would have advised the audience to watch for the reiterations within the work. Hopefully, he would have spoken about the unusual term larghetto elegiaco. Assuredly, the guest soloist’s violin played by Tiffany Leung was faultless.
Fifty-five years ago, I was introduced to a close friend of my fiancee’s -Elaine Langer, who was going to be one of Terry’s bridesmaids. Unlike some of my future wife’s family; Elaine took me as an immediate friend. When she and Bernie Altschuller married four years later; a gracious (and hospitable) foursome developed that has lasted for almost six decades.
Demuynck probably introduced the Schumann ‘Frauenliebe’ by iterating von Chamisso’s 139 verses of his poetic cycle written 200 years ago, that was Schumann’s inspiration for a composition. Hopefully, the director would have presented mezzo Cassandra Warner and soprano Sara Schabas by mentioning their amazing resumes and vocal ranges.
The Altschuller/Gaisin lives paralleled each others. Physical moves; having children; job progresses; and celebrating family events were consistently shared. Elaine & Bernie’s sense of humour was contagious; and even though Bernie received recognition for his engineering innovations and creative designs, he was constant in humility and lack of ego. These traits earned him the respect of his workplace contemporaries; his neighbours and his religious community. An unusual yet funny moment was joining the Altschullers for Sabbath services, attired in the Cdn Coast Guard’s dress-whites due to our involvement with a US/Cdn event in Kingston.
Even though my writing career began as strictly involving classical music; evolution has changed our subject matter to be more theatre-oriented than the concert stage. Thus, missing such an opportunity disappoints, but priorities are priorities… with little advance notice, Bernie passed away. Given Jewish tradition, a funeral was to be immediate. The pall that occupied our household and our psyches was such that attending any event would have been onerous beyond explanation.
We apologize to the O.C.O. musicians and especially to their guest soloists, hopefully they’ll understand.
The last time our foursome was together; we had stopped over on our way to Montreal for a 90th birthday celebration. Our Kingston dinner was garnished with reminiscences and laughter about Bernie’s new luxury car. Seems newer meant more complicated and Bernie was relying on son Marc to teach him it’s intricacies. No inclining of any medical problem or concerns.
Rest well, old friend.