If you happened to be in a seat at the Van Wezel on January 14 enjoying the glories of the Royal Philharmonic, considered by some critics the best orchestra in the world, you can in some small way thank Plymouth Harbor resident, John Goodman, among others. John served as the president of the Sarasota Concert Association from 2005 through 2013 and is still a member of its board and executive committee. Residents of Plymouth Harbor have led this organization and populated its board for the last five decades.
John is understandably proud of the Concert Association’s fine record, but this is only one of many organizations in Sarasota that benefit from his musical passion and expertise. While we sat chatting in the café, another resident introduced herself to John as a fan who regularly attended his lectures at the Selby Library for the Sarasota Music Archives. These lectures on various musical topics have continued now for the past ten years. He has also served as music instructor for the Pierian Spring Academy.
In 2002, after 38 years affiliated with Boston University (BU) on faculty and in administration, John Goodman retired from academia. Upon the suggestion of a BU colleague whose parents had lived here, John spent his first winter in Sarasota and quickly discovered why he had been pointed in this direction.
“I travelled to Sarasota with very little knowledge of the city and was delighted by the many opportunities to enjoy a range of high quality music and performing arts,” says John.
Within one year he had moved to Sarasota full-time establishing himself on Palm Avenue within sight of the Bay and close to all the performing arts venues. He was invited to join the board of Sarasota Concert Association, and he also became active in SILL (Sarasota Institute for Livelong Learning). The Sarasota Music Archives also caught John’s attention and he’s still very much involved with their activities as well.
John’s choices of volunteer activities are not at all surprising. This Kansas City, MO native left home to study music and theater at Northwestern University. Graduating with a degree in Playwriting, John continued at Yale University completing a masters degree in music composition under the tutelage of the formidable Elliot Carter, considered one of the greatest American composer of the 20th century, and the lesser known, yet substantially influential composer and educator Quincy Porter. From Yale, John continued his studies, earning his DMA at Boston University, but not before he gained his first teaching position at New England Conservatory, also in Boston.
Within three years, luck was with him again, and a position opened up at Boston University in the Theory and Composition department. John was back at BU and stayed for a total of 38 years. Soon after walking in the door that first year, he was appointed chair of his department, a position that required not only administrative organizational skills, but also the diplomatic art of persuasion to guide composers with egos and colleagues many years his senior. John held that post for 19 years; that must say something about the man!
He recalls many fine student musicians through the years and enjoyed his teaching. John also continued to compose during the summer break in the academic year. He spent two summers in an artist colony in Snowbird, Utah, where he completed a commissioned string quartet for the esteemed Muir Quartet which subsequently performed the work throughout Europe and the U.S.
Another of his colleagues at Boston University had a large residence in Athens, Greece, which accommodated a handful of residents for an informal artist colony experience where John spent four memorable summers.
He does not compare Plymouth Harbor to those halcyon days in Athens, but did add that his decision to move into Plymouth Harbor was an easy one. “When a neighbor of mine at the Regency said he was moving to Plymouth Harbor, it just seemed like the right time for me to make that move as well,” John shared. Before six months had passed, he was opening the door to his new home on the fifth floor of the Plymouth Harbor tower.
These days, John feels energized and places a high priority on remaining involved in his choice activities. He is an avid duplicate bridge player happy to play with the group gathered at Plymouth Harbor, as well as at the more competitive In-Between Bridge Club, which surprisingly is one of the top three largest duplicate bridge clubs in the country.
Showing the genius of a man long used to guiding organizations (or university departments), John shared his vision for the Sarasota Music Archives, which is a remarkable collection of music recordings and scores. It is one of the most notable in the southeast, he notes, calling for a public listening room which would allow ready access to the holdings of the Archives.
Although he feels strongly about the future of the Concert Association and Archive, John is ready to direct his creative juices back to the piano and composition. My guess is that even while practicing etudes or applying pencil to manuscript, John will be pondering which volunteers should be encouraged to step into leadership or take on new projects. How about you? Would you like to volunteer?