Day 6: Ever heard of Max Brenner? A Plexiglas rack was placed before me. In various openings sat a small carafe of warm chocolate ganache, a bowl of tiny chocolate balls filled with peanut butter, crushed wafers, and a waffle cone with one scoop of peanut butter chocolate and one of vanilla ice cream. Give me a break! It was lunch!…and a fine one at that. I needed lunch, I had time before the next concert and the place appeared as I walked near the venue – another sign from God (that means no guilt in celebrating every bite). By the way, the Server noticed and brought another carafe of chocolate when the need was apparent (very small carafe! – well, sort of small).
Before that while crossing a street, I engaged a local in conversation about the very complex intersection of multiple streets. We were stand on a small island with traffic whizzing by us. Her mother (in her mid-80’s) had recently been hit at that very spot, thrown a distance as a car tried to make a U-turn, ended up going the wrong direction, backed into her and drove off. Her mother walked away with only bruises – a tough lady. I mentioned I was on my way to a concert and she stopped for a couple of minutes asking about it. That was a very full five minute conversation very full.
I saw Kristen’s friend Emily (I think I can also now at least claim Emily as an acquaintance if not a friend) at the next concert in a very small old and very lovely venue. There was an early horn that looked like a French horn without valves. Emily told me and later the player confirmed and demonstrated that he could change the pitch not only with his mouth but by moving his fingers in the bell. That technique was developed only 30 years before Beethoven wrote the piece they played, a piece that is unusually happy and light for Beethoven.
Next was another fantastic concert with some of the best players in Early Music. I recognized one of them. She is a core member of a group called Piffaro that played in Kansas City a year and a half ago. I had met her at the dinner after her concert, the one at a home of a Board Member of the Friends of KC Chamber Music. Needless to say I talked with her for just a moment after the concert to confirm that I was correct about that.
After that I took the trip out to Brandeis to hear Kristen. I sat next to a couple (Walter and Alice) from Boston whom I had seen a few times at the Festival. They had heard Kristen before and had been equally impressed with her singing – and again that evening. Kristen dropped me off at the late night concert at the Festival (they start at 11pm or later). That concert was done in costume as two singers very dramatically (sometimes with props) performed some early Laments.
Day 7: Ever heard of Legal Seafood?…probably not legal in Kansas. The crab cake was beyond description – the Guinness was good too. It was lunch! I needed some food. Why not!
The next concert was a little emotional for me. The young players were prize-winning and rightly so. One piece in particular worked its way in the feelings on that anniversary of Mary Ann’s death. It just allowed me to rest in some painful but no longer disabling memories. The next concert contained music that did the same.
Between the two concerts a Breakfast Buddy (Cellist from the Florida Orchestra) and I got some coffee at a recommended coffee/sandwich shop. It was a real coffee shop. The espresso was good (in the opinion of my unsophisticated palate). The Baristas were appropriately impressed when I dropped the names of Pete Licata and his Coach Holly Bastin. In fact they were extremely impressed. They actually were very happy that I liked the espresso. (They were not aware of just how unsophisticated my palate is – that information is only given out on a need to know basis.) I was shameless when I ordered the espresso. I asked if they had one espresso to cut through in drinks with milk and another for espresso by itself. I should be punished for such pretentious behavior.
More food! After a concert by the Hilliard Ensemble, four men who have sung early music for a very long time (world renown), another person with whom I have interacted a few times (Nica) was heading to a very (very!) nice restaurant for a glass of wine before the next concert (11pm) at the same venue. I saw a very nice scotch menu. Why not? Then we shared a gourmet chocolate torte (not sure the right word for the dessert – sure it was as good as the elegance of the restaurant implied). By the way, at that concert the person next to me had heard Kristen a number of times and spoke glowingly of her beautiful voice and her skill.
The final concert of the day was a performance of early Celtic music by a harpist using an ancient style Celtic Harp and a singer who both a cappella and accompanied by the harp sang in an old style fitting the period. They were in costume and very engaging of the audience.
Before that concert I had seen and greeted Harpsichordist Nadja (from the dinner earlier in the week). When I talked with her for a moment afterward, she gave me a CD of her and her sister performing. She had given CD’s to Philippe and Cynthia at the table at dinner earlier in the week and felt badly that she had not given one to me. She had one in her bag to give me if she saw me again during the week. Needless to say she is a very kind and thoughtful person as well as (according to Cynthia — I have not heard her play) an outstanding Harpsichordist.
What an experience this is! As I have said before every day is like a week – even more given attending four or five concerts each of those days.