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Michael Barnes

Young at Heart: Young People’s Chorus, ‘Mary Poppins’ and more

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Robert Meyer and Amanda Zayas at Young People’s Chorus of New York City on Lake Austin.

When the message comes from Turk and Christy Pipkin, you listen.

They told of a summer party. One at the grand Lake Austin estate of Mike and Tami Schroeder in a sweet spot opposite Mount Bonnell.

There would be food by Jack Allen’s Kitchen. All the more enticing. Musical interludes from the Jeff Lofton Trio. Always a plus.

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Jeff Lofton Trio.

Then a performance by the Young People’s Chorus of New York City. Now, this was really intriguing, because the group has been known for the past 29 years for mixing kids from different classes and using song to ensure they stay in school and excel. The group plays the Paramount Theatre with Ruthie Foster on July 26.

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Young People’s Chorus of New York City arrive by boat at Lake Austin party in their honor.

Sounded like a prefect match for Austin. And, indeed, the crowd of 100 or so soaked up their preview poolside as the sun set, and after founder and artistic director Francisco J. Núñez had spoken.

It’s even more of a match because Austin might become just the second location for a Young People’s Chorus! The Pipkins are on a founding board, along with Andy Roddick, whose foundation does similar work, and other do-good titans.

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Photo: Kirk Tuck.

The previous night, I caught the official opening of “Mary Poppins” at Zach Theatre. Andrew J. Friedenthal‘s review for the American-Statesman nicely captures its magic.

It works out marvelously that P.L. Travers‘ estate opposed a stage version of the Disney classic, which Travers didn’t like, so that super-producer Cameron Mackintosh negotiated a deal that sent the writers back to the source material, while borrowing some of the best songs from the movie. Much better strategy than staying too loyal to the movie, as producers did with “Gigi” and “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

13709892_10157141515685316_7023995637278825412_nIn between those social events, I celebrated my 32nd personal appearance for “Indelible Austin: Selected Histories,” this one at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It was Lady Bird Day, which recalls the date when LBJ signed environmental legislation that his wife had promoted.

The book is a collection of historical columns originally written for the American-Statesman and then published by Waterloo Press back in October. A few months later, it earned a second printing.

What kind of stories? Ones like this piece that recently appeared in the Statesman on Austin in 1966 before and after the UT Tower sniper tragedy.