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Playing the Texan Palace




The manor house on the Ranch

The manor house on the Ranch

Soprano Dominique Labelle has joined the Four Nations Ensemble for two concerts in Fredericksburg Texas. Though we have heard of the qualities of the town and the hill country around it, we weren’t expecting the beauty of morning noon and night, nor the warm reception and appreciation that the next four days would bring. #

The Sheep Barn, beautiful acoustic serving as our concert hall.

The Sheep Barn, beautiful acoustic serving as our concert hall.

There is much to tell about the restored sheep barn, now beautiful concert hall, gallery and party pavilion; the 1830’s main house, restored respectful of its history and original proportions with a wing added for modern kitchen, grand bedroom and dining room; the dining room made theatrical by painted scrims from a New Orleans theater and spider web delicate lighting to make everything shimmer; the outbuildings (hen house, ice house) turned into guest quarters with kitchens stocked with everything and more; the landscape more exotic and haunting (made so at night by a wind that never ceased to moan and howl) than any seen in either painting or movie about the American west. #

Sparky, the sweetest but probably least intelligent of the ranch dogs.

There are four ranch dogs. They spend the night patrolling the perimeter of the property making sure that uninvited critters don’t invade. Though not yet in evidence, I understand that the landscape is spotted with rattle snakes in the late spring and summer and wonder how the dogs know which critters to bully and which to respect. At night Loretta and I sat on our stone porch looking up at the stars and out over the fields. Every few minutes one of these dogs would walk up to us from the dark and request petting and then disappear into the dark. After a half an hour I shined a flashlight to notice that seated equidistance from us and from each other were the four dogs, protecting and guarding our guesthouse. Ranch hands. #

The terrace, a vantage point to look at the stars, and protected by the ranch dogs.

The terrace, a vantage point to look at the stars, and protected by the ranch dogs.


Dinner at Sandra’s home in Fredericksburg with a parade of forks to your left!

Our hosts, two couples who planned everything, had scheduled one dinner after another to keep us in the spotlight. Sandra’s dinner, at Boot Ranch where we would spend our last two nights, had us wondering why there were so many forks lined up by our plates until we realized that courses were simply not going to stop, each one more delicious than the one before. #


  1. Evelyn Simon says:

    Hi Andrew,

    What a fascinating and joyful report. Thanks for writing it.

    All the best,


  2. Mike Wallace says:

    Your report gives me another perspective on Texas. The arts really do bring us all together. Bravo!

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