Five to nine

Have a drink.

September 17, 2004

Cheers to the talented Mister T.K. Wang

There is no friend like the old friend, who has shared our morning days,
No greeting like his welcome, no homage like his praise:

I had an open bar laid before me tonight, totally unexpectedly, but most welcome. It was the bar of a retirement reception. Not full, but chilled tasty chardonay, and hefewizen with a lime will perfect any outdoor summer night. On a perfect summer night it's hard to tell wether the setting is more intoxicating than the brews.
But tonight there was no contest, as this reception was preceded by the final concert of the Los Angeles philharmonic season. This concert of Russian composers managed to intoxicate 9000 people all at once.
The concert was introduced by the director of the philharmonic, saying that it's a melancholy time of year, because the family of musicians, so used to all their time together, would separate and go their respective ways for their time off. But especially melancholy because tonight was the last performance of anyone retiring this season.
And with that, she introduced T.K. Wang.
T.K. joined the philharmonic in 1964, and has been with the first violins through 4 directors, 51 tours, 4000+ concerts, tonight being his last, "Ladies and gentlemen would you please welcome Mr. T.K. Wang"
And he got to walk onstage all by himself, to the roaring applause of the crowd.
They played their concert, and it was a good one. Those Russians are very dramatic, and the setting, America's largest natural amphitheater , was dramatic too.
T.K. is the father of one of my oldest and best friends. Oliver is cool, smart, handsome (not to be a homo or anything, but c'mon he is Half Asian), unbelievably nerdy, and always willing to plunge headfirst into whatever seems exciting. Technology, motorcycles, food, recreationals. Living proof that music is not the only thing T.K. excels at reproducing.
After the concert, I managed to run into T.K. and his lovely wife and daughter. They were very surprised and happy to se me. I was less surprised, but no less happy to see them. I gave them my condolences because their son could not attend. They then invited me to come celebrate a bit with them at the reception his colleagues had planned for him.
And now I get to walk onto a rooftop patio with dozens of the worlds most talented musicians alongside the guest of honor. A waiter offered us wine, and I took chardonay, but by then I was already drunk on my sense of satisfaction. The Wangs of course, had some mingling to do, so I excused myself and went for some Hors D'oeuvres while T.K. introduced his women to the few who did not yet know them.
I was at the buffet, in front of the very same Harpist who nearly brought me to tears not half an hour ago, reaching for a little roast beef sandwich when the Bread top part of it falls, almost mustarding her, then hitting her feet. She then gives me this little look, 'you should be a little embarrassed young man' it seemed to say. I was mortified. But I looked straight at her, smiled, and said "It's about time i jumped on this low-carb bandwagon anyways." She smiles back and says "you may as well, everyone else already has." Whew, this woman does not think I am a toad.
I sat and was joined by Mr. Wang's family for the rest of cocktails. "where is Essa Peka?" asked Mary, his wife. "I noticed earlier, Essa Peka didn't even come" replied her daughter. It took me a second to realize they were talking about Salonen. Whoa. During cocktail hour, T.K. put on some of those Neon flashing sunglasses, he was gifted a backpack (as something of an inside joke by the first violins), and the crowd erupted into chants of 'T.K. T.K. T.K.' more than once.
As cocktails gave way to coffee. T.K. was summoned to cut the first slice of cake, "After this slice, you're officially retired"
He did, and there was much applause. But then, he didn't stop, he started slicing the cake with very much gusto, untill someone suggested to him that perhaps he should let the good people from the Patina group take care of that, since that was their trade, and they might do a better job of it. He conceded. The evening wore on. As the crowd dwindled it became easier to overhear all the nice things people were saying to and about Mr. Wang, all the gratitude for being a good colleague, and a good example and unselfish teacher from the younger violins.
I finished my cake, my coffee and my conversation. I congratulated him one last time, as I said goodbye to his family, who I'd been sitting with.
As I walked to my car, I couldn't stop feeling so lucky to be well acquainted with such an extraordinary group of people, and that I got to share some of this most special evening with them.

Thank you for everything and Cheers T.K.!

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