Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Fast Few Weeks....

Ann was away for 18 days, taking a trip to India, one she has always dreamt about, a non-sanitized version, traveling from Delhi to Varanasi, visiting small villages and all the important destinations like the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.  It was vigorous and demanding, more than I wanted to do, and with a small group.  Group travel has never been my "thing" so we agreed: she should go and I should stay home.  We've done that before, and being by myself is no big deal. 

She has now returned home, but the day before she left, she helped with one of the piano concerts I do from time to time at senior homes in Florida, the most recent one at the Waterford in Juno Beach, a very nice facility with continuous levels of care.

I've performed there before, but only in the assisted living wing, which was somewhat difficult as the piano had seen its better days, my having little ability to modulate loud / soft,  and even the keys sometime sticking, making it almost torture to perform.  This time I "graduated" to their auditorium which had a lovely grand piano, a pleasure to play. 

I usually write a brief narrative when I compile a program, basically to introduce the various sections and put the selections in an overall structure, but always found it off putting to have to get up from the piano to talk and then sit down again.   So Ann helped me present the narrative and even made a cell phone recording of one of the pieces I played (Moon River, even though I play other pieces better, but it just happened to be the one where she was able to unobtrusively record).

As a cell phone recording, the sound is merely passable, as is the photographic composition, but one thing it did capture was the bizarre lighting of the stage, which was put on just as I was beginning to play.  (I found it disconcerting, but the show must go on!).  So I include that video below, along with the narrative of the entire program. 

I had already performed Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Andrew Lloyd Webber programs at this facility before, so I decided to make this one an eclectic compilation of songs from the Great American Songbook, under the rubric, "Music Makes Us:"

David Byrne in his recently published How Music Works, made a profound observation: "We don't make music; it makes us." How true. And we are sort of defined by the music we listen to. For my wife Ann and myself, it is the Great American Songbook, music we sometimes we refer to as "The Standards," many coming from our theatre and films or just pieces written for or by some of our recording artists. For this program I’ve chosen some diverse pieces from "The Songbook."  It is music our generation will always remember. I'm going to turn over the narration of the program to Ann, so I can settle here at the piano.
In keeping with the theme, Bob's first piece is by Joe Raposo, who wrote much of the music for Sesame Street but is perhaps best known for the work he did with Frank Sinatra and, in particular, this piece, You Will Be My Music.
How about flying down to Rio as the next medley of pieces are by two of the best known Brazilian composes, Luiz Bonfa and Antonio Jobim? Bonfa wrote A Day in the Life of a Fool for the film "Black Orpheus." This will be followed by two pieces by the legendary Jobim, whose work has become a permanent part of the Great American Songbook, How Insensitive, and concluding with Dindi.
From songwriters we turn to a lyricist, Johnny Mercer, who worked with a number of great Broadway and film composers. Bob is going to play a few of his best known, Once Upon a Summertime, Moon River and finally, one of our favorites, I'm Old Fashioned.
One of the greatest jazz pianists ever, who was a composer as well, is Bill Evans. The first piece was written by him, Waltz for Debby which is followed by another in 3/4 time, How My Heart Sings (composed by Earl Zindars), and then one by a composer Evans frequently recorded, Denny Zeitlin's Quiet Now.
Here is a thematic group of melodies, ones that are telling related stories of Youth and Love, of course favorite faire for songwriters, such as Young and Foolish, then Young Love (by the famous pianist, Errol Gardner), Can't Help Lovin' That Man of Mine (by the great Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern, written for Showboat), concluding with Jerome Kern and Richard Rodgers' My Funny Valentine.
From Youth and Love we evolve to songs concerning Time and Remembrance. As Time Goes By was immortalized in the 1942 movie Casablanca. Time after Time is a classic written by the great team of Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne. Then we will always think of Bob Hope when we hear Thanks For the Memory. This section will conclude with Andrew Lloyd Webber's Memory from Cats.
We now turn to three songs, the only relationship between them is they involve body parts -- the face and the arms! But seriously, they are all beautiful melodic masterpieces. The first is the better known of the three, I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face from Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady. Then two songs -- ones not frequently heard -- I See Your Face Before Me by Arthur Schwartz (the father of Jonathan Schwartz who has long hosted a Sinatra radio program) and I Got Lost in His Arms from Annie Got Her Gun, by the legendary Irving Berlin..
And to conclude the program, it's Time to Say Goodbye or Con te partirĂ² which Sarah Brightman made famous with Andrea Bocelli. It's been wonderful to share this great music with you....

However, the big news: now that Ann has returned I've implored her to write about her trip for this blog, along with a selection of the very interesting photographs she took.  She's agreed! I'm very eager for her to finish her work (she is getting an idea of what I go through writing up our trips and assembling photos), as I know from her preliminary notes (mostly emails she sent me during the trip) it is going to be an exceptional piece of writing.  And here are just a couple of her photos that I edited and am posting as a teaser: