I hope your summer is starting off wonderfully, and that you’re spending some quality time with your family. It’s still cool in our part of the world, but our garden is planted, and the flowers seem to be thriving. Now I’m ready to pursue other summer plans.
Recently, my husband and I attended a soiree, which was a fundraiser for a community music festival. The music director is a violinist and the son of my husband’s best friend. The music director’s wife is a pianist. Every year, they travel to a mountain community to give a benefit recital. Among other things, the proceeds provide a scholarship for an aspiring high school musician. The performance usually takes place in someone’s home. At least 100 people attend, so as you can imagine, these homes that host the recital are quite large and very beautiful. Sometimes the host is a pianist and has a piano available for the performance, but other times a piano needs to be rented and set up in the home’s great room. Because these homes are large, they don’t have living rooms like my tiny home – they have great rooms. They also have catering kitchens in addition to the home’s private kitchen. Because I’ve already revealed my home is small, you know I’m not a member of this socioeconomic bracket, but it’s fun to experience such luxury even if only for an evening. At the soirees, the music director and his wife perform several pieces for violin and piano. Most are war horses – pieces that the attendees are familiar with and like, but sometimes the musicians perform pieces that are more contemporary and more avant garde. Some I like. Some I don’t like, but I couldn’t tell you why. I prefer a melody that I can identify and not music that seems directionless. But I’m not the experienced musician that my husband is. When he was teaching at the university, he was part of an avant garde ensemble and traveled around the country performing contemporary music. He loved it and had so much fun introducing new pieces to audiences.
Once after one of the performances of an avant garde piece, one of the musicians asked me what I thought of the music. I had to confess that the piece didn’t resonate with me. He was very understanding and began to explain what was involved in the composition. It was good to know what had been the intention of the composer, but because I wasn’t familiar with some of the phrasing, I didn’t understand everything he said. I’m sure if I could sit down and study the piece the way this musician studies music, that might make a difference.
We attend these soirees to show our support to the musicians. The actual festival is in the fall. The musicians perform five concerts over a 10 day period. The director and his wife come with some of their musician friends, many of whom teach at Juilliard or other well-known conservatories. They stay in very nice homes in the community and practice all day. When they have a chance, they take hikes in the surrounding woods. One day, they got lost and had to call the host for help. They had been outside for a while and got a little too much sun. Eventually, someone found them and drove them back to home where they were staying. Some of the performances are in homes, some in a church and some in a community center. One was performed in an art gallery. That was a treat to view beautiful art and hear beautiful music.
When we arrive at the soiree, we are greeted with a glass of champagne and the guests mingle. There is no arriving late to these events. The performance starts on time. Then the musicians come into the room and greet the attendees. The furniture in the great room is usually removed and filled with chairs arranged in rows in front of the piano. Next to the piano are chairs and music stands for the musicians. One year a musician had his xylophone shipped to the music festival. After a brief introduction in which the music director discusses the pieces that will be performed, the performance begins. The pianist is a very tiny woman, but she has complete control over the grand piano and exquisitely plays the pieces. As the pianist, she is in charge of the performance of each piece the group plays with her. Not every piece is includes the piano and when that happens, she slips backstage and rests or I’m sure rehearses in her mind the next piece she will perform.
When the performance ends, the caterers have laden the dining room with scrumptious food and bottles of wine. The attendees move around the table and select different food items and a glass of wine and visit with each other and with the musicians. Some of the attendees live year round in the community, but most only have summer homes and winter in warmer climates.
I can’t resist the food, most of which I can’t identify but all of which is delicious. We are usually the last to leave the soiree because my husband is in heaven when he can discuss music with serious musicians. Then we wait until next summer when we can enjoy another evening of beautiful music, delicious food and wine and interesting people.
I wish you a week of wonderful adventures or relaxing times, or whatever delights you as long as it makes you happy.