Brian Groner has been music director of the Fox Valley Symphony since 1995. From time to time he will share his thoughts with you right here in his blog.

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Oct. 21, 2013

One usually associates leftover pizza with something about which one feels relatively guilty eating as a breakfast item the morning following an epic caloric splurge. Not this one. While it may have been an unwise amount of calories, it was a pizza made from leftovers.

I started with a frozen flatbread crust, which had been sitting quietly in the freezer waiting for creative consumption. On top went the left over items: one beautiful pan fried pork chop, one large caramelized pineapple slice (chopped into tiny pieces), about 1/​3 of a cup of “country bacon” (a highly peppered rough cut wad of smoky goodness which I cooked down to reduce the fat) and about one half cup of a Texas style barbeque sauce. After 13 minutes in the convection oven, set at 400 degrees, it emerged looking truly wonderful.

I paired the pizza with a beautiful Truett-Hurst petite sirah (Sonoma County's finest) with a flavor at least as big as the flavors of the aforementioned pizza.
My apologies to all as, after it was removed from the convection oven, I lost control and ate it, all of it, before I remembered that I wanted to share a photo with you. Trust me. It looked good.

10,000 words/one picture
Sept. 11, 2013

I have far too many blog topics in my head these days. One thing I have been tempted to write about are the electronic signs on the highways near Chicago. They read out the current total of people killed on the highway system so far this year. On more than one occasion I have seen that number change while I glanced up at the sign and of course that caused me to spend much driving time wondering who the person was, who they left behind etc. That is too dark a topic to explore here and so, on a lighter note, I want to share a picture of my cat Beaux.

If you look closely at this photo (taken by our friend Terri) you will find it to be a glimpse into my life. Beaux is standing on the 1938 General Electric radio in my dining room (I started collecting furniture when I was still in high school). Behind him is a picture of a smiling cat which looks very much like him. What you don't see is that the doppelganger cat is holding up a stein of beer in his left paw (I have been brewing for a year or two now).

You will also notice the gold plated pitcher (a surprise gift which I gave to my wife when we lived in Nashville). On the side of the pitcher is a wooden slug which has its own unique charm. And then of course there is my daughter's high school graduation picture.

Laughter is GOOD for you!
July 22, 2013

For those of you who need a good laugh I have a quick website suggestion. If you only have a minute to spend go directly to the last of the ten epic fails. I literally almost fell off of my chair when I heard that one.


By the way, for those of you who have asked, I get my stitches out today from my recent carpal tunnel surgery.

Love to All,

Shameless Promotion
June 3, 2013

Anyone who talks to me longer than two minutes ends up finding out that I am very proud of my daughter. She is a kind, visionary young woman. I thought that I would take this opportunity to forward a letter she sent recently.

Hello everyone!

Last year, for my 25th birthday, I opened up a campaign to raise money in lieu of birthday gifts for the first time. It changed my life drastically. By the end of the campaign, we raised enough money to fund an ENTIRE well in Ethiopia where over 80 million men, women and children are without sanitary, easily accessible water. I dedicated the well to my wonderful parents. The well is currently under construction and will be completed this fall. I could not be prouder of my compassionate, supportive and kind family and friends for helping make this dream into a reality.

Despite this amazing news, there is still drastic need in the world for clean drinking water. The water collected in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia is usually from rivers and streams that are teeming with bacteria and disease. Every 19 seconds, a child dies from a water-related illness due to the lack of safe, filtered water in their homes and schools.

You may not know this, but water access is not just a human rights issue but a women’s rights issue as well! In almost all families in 3rd world nations, it is the woman’s job to collect the water for their family every day and many women spend up to three hours journeying each way to and from collecting water. In fact, some women in Africa spend more time collecting water than any other activity in the day! This prevents them from being able to get an education or participate in the work force, perpetuating the cycle of poverty for that family and the nation as a whole. Also, the canister of water weighs about 40-50 lbs when full, making the journey back to their homes very unsafe exposing them to unnecessary risk of animal or human attack. The feminization of poverty is real- 70% of the world’s poor are female, and lack of water access contributes greatly to this inequality.

Help me break this cycle! I hope to raise $5,000 this year for another well, proving to everyone that water is not a luxury- it is a basic human right. Please click the link below to donate to this worthy campaign, read more about the water needs in the developing world and learn more about the wonderful work being done by charity:water.


Thank you all, I hope to be able to report good news once again at the end of this campaign! Even if you cannot donate, please pass this along and repost on your social media sites to share the opportunity to make a difference with your friends and loved ones.

Andrea Groner

Fun Article
Apr. 3, 2013

Here is a link to an article that I found wonderfully interesting.


Safe and Sound
Mar. 20, 2013

I got a hushed call from my daughter in Indianapolis yesterday She was calling from a building on the campus of IUPUI where she is finishing a degree in Philanthropic Studies. On her way to one of her classes she received a campus advisory text while in the stairwell of the parking ramp. The text read that there had been a man with a long gun (rifle or shotgun) sighted in the parking ramp. Yes, the same ramp she was exiting at the time.

While she waited with other students and faculty, inside one of the buildings near the ramp, she made her call to us and kept us and others informed through Facebook posts.

To make a long story short, her campus was locked down for much of the afternoon. The man with the gun (perhaps guns) was not found by the combined efforts of the Campus, City and State Police but all are safe for the moment.


Feb. 22, 2013

If you have a few minutes, and feel like hearing some of what is going on in the music world, take a peek at this fantastic blog. The symphony business is its own world.



Epic Menu
May 25, 2012

Here is the short version of the menu for the meal which Yuliya, Eric and I will create at the Flaherty home this evening.

Amuse-bouche - Smoked Salmon Roulade topped with fresh caviar
*Wine:  Torresella Prosecco DOC NV, Italy
Soup Course - Borscht
*Wine:  Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre 2008, Veronese, Italy
Entree - Russian dumplings
*Wine:  Mollydooker Carnival Of Love Shiraz 2009, McLaren Vale, Australia
Cheese Course
*Wine:  Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/​Viognier 2011, California
*Wine:  Phillips Hill Pinot Noir 2009, Toulouse vineyard, California
*Wine:  Tolouse Vineyards Pinot Noir 2006, California
Dessert - Chocolate Raspberry trifle
*Wine:  531 Winery Chocolate Raspberry Port

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