A portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach, the German musician and composer of the Baroque period after whom the Washington Bach Consort is named. (A. DAGLI ORTI/De Agostini Editorial via Getty Images)

Cecil “Cy” Richardson and his wife, Pearl, attended performances of the Washington Bach Consort for about 15 years. They were a frugal couple, preferring the lower-priced, obstructed-view seats in the Bach Consort’s home performance space, National Presbyterian Church on Nebraska Avenue NW.

Cy was a World War II veteran and a retired Foreign Service employee. The Richardsons would occasionally donate to the consort, a chorus and an orchestra that specialize in baroque music played on period instruments. Gifts were in the $25 range.

“I wish I could tell you I knew Cy Richardson,” said Marc Eisenberg, the consort’s executive director. “I wish I’d spent time with him. He really enjoyed our music.”

Cy enjoyed it so much that when he died April 1 at 88 — three years after Pearl’s death — his will included a bequest of $157,000 to the Washington Bach Consort. The check was deposited this month.

Marc said the organization’s entire budget is about $750,000. Raising money is never easy, especially in the past few years, as corporate support of nonprofit groups has declined.

“Not only are we a nonprofit,” Marc said, “we’re an arts organization. We’re classical music. We’re early music. It’s a tough niche to fund. A gift like this, out of nowhere . . .”

Marc seemed at a loss for words, so let’s turn to music. Any Bach creation spring to mind when he thinks of the surprise bequest?

“The majesty of the B Minor Mass is something that comes to my mind,” he said.

The Bach Consort launched a program six years ago to bus D.C. students to the Sitar Arts Center in Northwest Washington to attend its concerts. The first year, 170 youngsters came. “We’re now at about 2,500” a year, Marc said. “We would be more than that if we could afford more buses. We actually needed to cut back in the fall.”

Thanks to the Richardsons, not anymore. Marc said: “This type of gift has a direct effect on the number of D.C. public school students who will have a live classical music experience this year, no two ways about it.”

How many other philanthropic couples are sitting behind a pole at some Washington concert venue?

Fast and furious

When the gray Toyota Camry cut me off, it was in a jerkish kind of way, not an overtly dangerous way.

We were abreast of each other, headed west on the K Street NW service road. Traffic was heavy in all directions, and I was determined not to block the box. I never want to be the butterfly whose single wing-flap leads inexorably to citywide gridlock.

But by leaving space in front of me — space I intended to occupy as soon as the light turned green — it allowed the Camry to nip over. He took my open car length. And he hadn’t even signaled.


One thing about Washington traffic is that we’re all in it together. Literally. When space finally opened up for me, I was right behind the Camry. I couldn’t see the driver, but I could scrutinize his car and dispatch invisible beams of hate from my forehead.

Traffic approaching Washington Circle was awful, vehicles fighting for every inch of ground. Eventually the Camry pulled to the curb and a back door opened. A couple climbed out. In that instant I saw the telltale white “U” on a black background.

Ah. An Uber.

That shouldn’t have changed anything, but it did. I found my attitude toward him softening a bit. I have my problems with Uber — I find their business model kind of smarmy — but I empathize with professional drivers. I was one in college, delivering film and photographs all over Washington. Once you’ve been paid to bob and weave in traffic, you’ve joined a brotherhood.

But at first I didn’t know that he was a professional. I know a D.C. cab when I see one. Not so an Uber.

It made me wonder: Should they have more obvious markings?

Helping Hand

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. For many of us, that means kicking back with family in the comfort of our homes.

Not everyone is so fortunate. A medical crisis, a lost job, a divorce — any of these things can send a person into homelessness. If you’re a young person fleeing a harmful living situation, the street can seem safer than home.

The Washington Post has teamed with three local charities that work with homeless families and teens. As you settle in for the holiday, please consider making a donation to one of our Helping Hand partners:

Community of Hope works with D.C. families. Make a check payable to “Community of Hope” and mail to: Community of Hope, Attn: Helping Hand, 4 Atlantic St. SW, Washington, D.C. 20032.

Homestretch works with families in Northern Virginia. Make a check payable to “Homestretch” and mail to: Homestretch, 303 S. Maple Ave., Falls Church, Va. 22046, Attn: Nan Monday.

Sasha Bruce Youthwork works with teens and young adults. Make a check payable to “Sasha Bruce Youthwork” and mail to: Sasha Bruce Youthwork, 741 Eighth St. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003. Attention: James Beck.

To donate online, visit posthelpinghand.com.

Twitter: @johnkelly

For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.