Are we who we are because of our past, or in spite of it?
...At least, that is what I thought I was going to do, until the first interviews I had with them. But let me backtrack a little.
In my last post, I said I would tell the rest of the story.
After moving away from Orlando/Winter Park in 1965, I lost touch with the Rexes. It wasn't until a rather serendipitous moment that I found them again.
It was the summer of 1983 and I was quite pregnant with my first child. I happened to be watching PBS one particularly hot afternoon, as I sat sprawled out on my living room couch. It was a broadcast of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Suddenly, a very tall, handsome young man walked across the stage holding his violin. I thought, "Hmmm. Symphony musicians are getting a lot younger and better looking all the time!" When the orchestra began to play and the camera panned over to the young man, I screamed, "It's Charles Rex!" I hadn't recognized him until he picked up the violin. You don't sit across from someone in an orchestra for years and not know how they look when they play. It is imprinted on your mind. Those of you who have been in orchestras and bands know exactly what I'm talking about.
I immediately put in a call to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and asked if they had anyone in the first violins named Charles Rex. I was told that he was the Associate Concertmaster. I left my name and number and asked to have him call me back .
Later that day, I got a call. Sure enough, it was Charles! We talked for quite awhile. Later I learned that Charles also got a call from the soap opera, "Days of Our Lives" from the same performance. They wanted him to be a strolling violinist on their show. Thus, our friendship was rekindled. (FYI, Charles did the strolling violinist gig!)
My next post I'll tell you how the documentary came to be.
You might be surprised to learn that my connection to the Rex family goes way back, in fact, as far back as first grade in Winter Park, Florida. It is now a joke between Christopher Rex and me that I invited him to my 7th birthday party because I had a crush on him. I'm the very chubby young girl wearing the crown in this picture. Chris is two kids to the right in the solid shirt. Notice the forced grin on his face. Poor boy!
My folks and I moved across town to Orlando when I was in third grade. I reconnected with the Rex brothers at Glenridge Jr. High, where we were all played in the school orchestra. I think this photo is from 7th grade. Note that Charles Rex is concerto master, Christopher Rex is first cello, and if you look at the last row 2nd violins (the girl closest to the edge of the photo), that's me.
I was mostly friends with Charles, Holly Straub and David Glass in those days. How I wish I had some photos of us together to share!
In 8th grade, Christopher and I were cast in the Glenridge production of a musical called "Get Up and Go." I was the female lead and Chris played a crotchety old man. If I remember correctly, Chris stole the show. Chris is the one wagging his finger in the first photo below. I am in the second photo gazing lovingly into my leading man's eyes. (I just noticed I didn't get any billing! Ah, ain't show business tough?)
I remember going over to the Rex brother's house to play quartets with Charles, Holly, Christopher and me. I think Mr. Rex played viola. My memories of Mr. Rex are that he was a charming, very commanding person, but I remember feeling uncomfortable around him at the same time. Their mother was a very sweet person, as was their little sister Cathy. I felt SO honored to be invited over to play! We all were in the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra together. Those times were very special for me, as I am sure they were for lots of the kids in the music programs we were privileged to be part of.
My family moved up to the Washington, DC, area right after 8th grade, and Christopher, Cathy, and their mom eventually ended up leaving, too, and moving to Gettysburg, PA. Charles stayed with his father and attended Winter Park High School. Upon graduation he was given a full scholarship to Florida State University. Christopher attended Gettysburg High School, then the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and then Julliard.
In my next post I'll tell you how I ended up reconnecting with the brothers and how the documentary came to be.
Concerto was recently accepted to the 40th Atlanta Film Festival 2016. I sent them several images for promotional purposes, and am thrilled that they chose one of Christopher Rex's paintings to promote the film.
As you will learn when you see the film, Christopher always wanted to be an artist first. The cello was chosen for him by his father. Brother Charles played violin, their father played a little viola and their mother played piano. They needed a cellist to complete the quartet. Sister Cathy was too young at this point to be included.
Years later, after becoming the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's principal cellist, Christopher returned to art school. His conflicted relationship with his father was a recurring theme. Below is the painting being used by the Atlanta Film Festival and that appears in the film. I think it truly captures the theme of Concerto.