Walt Disney is to blame . . .

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.  -Bob Marley

I can remember the exact day, 56 years ago that my love for classical music began. It was the summer of 1956 and, as for the past couple of years, I had been sent off by my parents to stay with my Aunt and Uncle in San Diego.  My dad was going back to school in the summers to get a Masters Degree in Education and my mom, saddled with 5 young kids, needed some relief (as the middle child I was a bit unruly).  So, little Johnny (don’t ever call me that) was shipped from Myrtle Creek, Oregon (a very tiny logging community in the Cascade Mountains) to the big city of San Diego, California.

My Uncle worked nights at the San Diego Tribune newspaper, so most of my days were spent with my Aunt Dorothy while Uncle Blackie slept.  We did all kinds of interesting things, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, the Aquarium, clambered around a retired US WWII aircraft carrier at the naval base, went to Tijuana, Mexico to shop for string puppets, and visited my grandparents who lived not far away in El Cajon (my grandfather had the most amazing workshop full of “cool stuff”).

But the greatest impression from all my summers in San Diego was that day in 1956 when we drove downtown to see the CineScope Wide Screen showing of Walt Disney’s movie, Fantasia. Up to that point my only exposure to classical music was as the background music for cartoons on television. And to top it off, this was my first time at a movie theatre.

When the lights dimmed and the curtain slowly drew back to expose the super wide screen, my eyes grew to the size of saucers as the backlit image of conductor Leopold Stokowski ascended to the podium. I was mesmerised by his voice as he began to describe the orchestra and the coming production.  But when he raised his baton and the Supersound system exploded, I was hooked for life.

Through my college days in the mid to mid to late sixties I listened to lots of Doors, Beatles, Stones, Joplin, Mamas and Papas, James Taylor, Bob Marley, Carole King, Roy Orbison and many other music stars of the time, but always in my collection of vinyl records were Beethoven, Bach, Debussy, Chopin, Mendelssohn.  I usually played these when I was studying.  The rock stuff was reserved for the weekend and beer parties.

So I guess, after thinking about it, it is inevitable that my daughter, Stephanie, is a classical violinist and budding opera singer. I blame it all on Walt Disney . . .

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.  -Plato

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress


About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
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