That Is The Most Amazing Thing

New York Cantata Singers was preparing for a series of concerts in the newly acousticised (that should have been a word) Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center. The original acoustics were considered by most to be "less than optimum" (horrible) so they re-designed them prior to the beginning of the 2nd season.) Before our first rehearsal in the acoustically renovated concert hall, while we were rehearsing, I noticed that one of the male members of Cantata Singers was standing at the side of the group with a large book in one hand and what appeared to be a pencil in the other. He seemed to be making verticle marks in the book. I had never seen anything exactly like what I was witnessing.

At the break, I went to him and inquired as to what he was doing and why he was not singing in the chorus. Little did I know that I was speaking with one of the finest graphic artists in New York City. His illustrations had been on the covers of many top national magazines. He opened the "book" to one page and showed me a magnificent artistic illustration of the performers - all made with simple vertical lines! I said, "That is the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my life." He looked at me and told me the following story.

He had been commissioned to do illustrations for one of the first heart transplants. He was masked and gowned and had carefully sterilized his "book" and pencil. As he began drawing, he was so fascinated and moved by what the surgeon was doing that he almost forgot to create the illustration for the American Medical Association. He then told me that the surgeon stopped for a moment and looked over his shoulder at the illustration-in-progress and said, "That is the most amazing thing I have ever seen." He then told me, "You see, this is what I do. I am much more amazed at what you do as a conductor."

This was a great learning experience for me. I better understood that we all have areas of expertise and things that we don't do as well. I have never had the ability to draw anything that approximates an accurate depiction of an artistic subject) although both our boys are experts as graphic artists.

I was reminded of this story recently when a tree surgeon came to our house to remove two dead trees. Jon Staufer, the tree surgeon, deftly climbed to the top of the approximately 100-foot tree and began demonstrating his skills. Although these two trees consumed the majority of a full day's work, the trees were expertly removed. It was yet another "one of the most amazing things I have ever seen."

Jon at the top of the tree (center)
Jon Staufer
A section is about to fall

Having had the opportunity these 80 plus years to observe and learn from others, I find myself continually amazed at the unbelievable work others do, especially our sons. Chris is a professional wood turner with commissions from all over the world, especially for his famous wooden hats. David is a top veterinary ophthalmologist creating miracles on small animals. I have watched both demonstrate their unparalleled skills multiple times. David's surgical skills are unmatched and Chris can transform a piece of wood into an art object better than anyone. Click here to see a small sampling of tens of thousands of his astounding works. Do I sound like a proud father? Good, because I certainly am one!

David Ramsey
Performing Ophthalmic Surgery

Chris Ramsey
Presenting Commissioned Wood Hats

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