From the Diary of an Indolent Pianist

Beth Levin

[July 2009.]

The building’s vines have overgrown the window. My sandals languish by the piano. The Diabelli Variations seem so far away. Work accomplished.

I’ve been seeing friends, talking too much and having second glasses of wine with lunch. Recently I caught a lovely recital by the soprano Christine Moore at a church in Manhattan. She sang Spanish and Arabic songs with great expression accompanied by a first-rate ensemble of guitar, clarinet, cello and piano. Two of the composers on the program, Cesar Vuksic and Mohammed Fairouz, were invited onstage for hugs and praise.

I met the composer Bunita Marcus and soprano Beth Griffith not long ago. Bunita prepared a scrumptious lunch of scallops and shared stories in her warm way. Beth (a relation of D.W.) is a brilliant musician who has performed the works of Stockhausen here and in Germany to rave reviews. Coming from my conservative background I thought to listen and try to learn something. I smiled, ate and bonded. Thank you, Beth and Bunita!

The composer / pianist Richard Cameron-Wolfe was in town for the ACA (American Composer’s Alliance) concerts which I could not attend. I met him at Spaghetto’s in the Village and was happily reintroduced to his intelligence, charm and visionary traits. He will soon premiere a work of Rudhyar in the town where Chagall was born, Vitebsk. I can’t think of anyone with a greater work ethic or a more fruitful imagination than Richard. He complimented me for being “so real.” Seems that after a glass of wine my mysterious persona recedes.

Last week I was asked to perform at a benefit for the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, an end-of-year party drawing awareness to the school as an asset to the community. I snapped out of my summer stupor in order to prepare. As a problem or a virtue, with respect to the jitters, I cannot separate a Town Hall debut from a living-room performance.

I walked into the room and recognized Donald Hagar, a wonderful composer whose work had just been premiered by Nelly Vuksic and the Brooklyn Conservatory Chorale. He attended my recent recital of Beethoven, Wiprud and Poll. I began to feel at ease.

Musicians, whether onstage, in the audience or meeting on Facebook develop an immediate empathy. As my summer wafts along I look forward to more meetings, discussions and celebrations with fellow performers, alternating of course with bouts at the keyboard.


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