[Dixielandjazz] Caroling at Irving Berlin's house
rsr at ringwald.com
Tue Dec 25 10:50:03 PST 2012
Silent Night at Irv Berlin's
New York Post, December 21, 2012
A Christmas Eve caroling tradition at Irving Berlin's home has been sadly canceled.
For 35 years, a group of carolers arrived at 17 Beekman Place, the former home of
the legendary composer, to sing his tune "White Christmas."
But the pilgrimage to the place, which is now the Luxembourg consulate, was abruptly
canceled last week because of a commotion over the famous ballroom in the house.
Songwriter Bobb Goldsteinn, leader of the caroling cohort since 2007, says, "It breaks
The tradition began in the late 1970s when cabaret singer John Wallowitch would walk
by Berlin's house and warble "White Christmas" while walking his dog, Winnie. Five
years on, in 1983, he had added a group of fellow performers, and Berlin, then 95,
famously welcomed the carolers inside for cocoa and cookies. They sang in his home's
beautiful ballroom from then on. After Berlin's death, when the house became Luxembourg's
consulate and permanent mission to the UN, the tradition continued.
"Every year, through word of mouth, it would get a bit bigger," said a source. This
year's installment was to include a gig by drag guru Lypsinka.
But international affairs have seemingly interfered with the chorus' criteria. "The
ballroom is now full of tables, and computers, and IT equipment," says Goldsteinn,
whose group was last year given a smaller library in which to perform. Now he's pulled
the plug. He says it was, "so packed, so madcap," he had to "stand on a kitchen stool."
But Luxembourg Consul-General Jean-Claude Knebeler explains he was forced to stuff
the ballroom with office equipment because his country was elected as a non-permanent
member of the UN Security Council, and so is housing more staff for two years.
"I was personally very happy to see the tradition continue," Knebeler told us, adding
he'd budgeted for piano rental, "drinks and nibbles" for this year's event, and that
the library holds 70. "We were looking forward to hosting the event, as we did in
the past. For us it's a bit embarrassing." He added he hopes it could resume in the
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