As a child John witnessed a televised production of Cavalleria Rusticana, finding it strongly sung and memorably demented. He notes that the effects of verismo on a child’s mind have yet to be determined. Then as a teen-ager he heard the recording, Getz/Gilberto, (the one with the orange painting by abstract expressionist, Olga Albizu on the cover) featuring American jazz saxophonist, Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist, Joao Gilberto. These experiences influence his musical taste to this day.
Eventually he co-founded a marketing agency and worked with Free Jazz pioneer, Ornette Coleman at the behest of Verve, the label that released several of Coleman’s recordings. He also produced a New York City jazz club extravaganza to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Blue Note Records. Prior to all of that, he was an arts administrator, college professor, film critic and an award-winning producer of music and story-telling programs for children.
Thanks to friends he made while pursing a certificate in arts administration at the Banff Center in Banff, Alberta, John’s initial brush with opera was hearing Dame Joan Sutherland and Tatiana Troyanos in Norma and Martina Arroyo as Turandot at the Canadian Opera Company. Then he lost his heart to Dame Gwyneth Jones when she sang the Marschallin and Ariadne in the same week at the Vienna State Opera; John would revive his romance with these Richard Strauss heroines when he organized a graduate course on fin-de-siecle Vienna for New York University.
Once upon a time John met with Lord Tony Hall who was then Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House. This resulted in meetings with ROH development and marketing staff in London and New York, who admired but found premature his strategy for tapping the very top of the “one per-cent.” Nonetheless, he enjoyed the encounter and the opportunity to catch a world-class opera company in action.
For what seemed like a lifetime, John organized communities and developed audiences for the Artrain-an actual train that transported and exhibited art from museums, galleries and private collectors, to areas that were considered culturally underserved. With his encouragement, communities organized their own series of art shows and performances and John began to observe the effects audiences members had, not only on these events, but on each other.
As the Internet and digital age revolutionized entertainment and smart phones threatened to leave no event uninterrupted, he began to consider how an ever-growing supply of content and increasingly seductive technical gadgets might be harnessed in the service of audiences and presenters alike. Currently he is conducting research for a book on how this can be accomplished. He wants his book to be a fun and useful read and has discovered that cultural audiences can learn a thing or two from those of sports.
John is reassured by the presence of paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He visits them often. He likes to gently direct friends and visitors to the Queen Mother Pendant Mask in gallery 352 of the Met’s Arts of Africa, Oceana and the Americas galleries. He is grateful to former Met Director, Thomas Campbell, for including this majestic expression of respect for one’s elders on his audio tour.