Would you believe me if I told you that a red-breasted grosbeak landed on my shoulder and stayed for a short visit during my reprise* of the G Major prelude as the sun set through the trees?
This evening's performance was for six people in a back yard in Lincoln. I was "gifted" to two older adults, including a gentleman who had lost his wife just two months ago amidst the pandemic.
I improvised the following program:
Suite in G (complete, with occasional repeats)
Beethoven Minuet in G ("composer, anyone?")
Dvorak Humoresque, after which, two audience members (siblings) shared the dirty lyrics that their father had taught to them many decades ago, and I accompanied them for the camera--great fun.
Intermezzo, from Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana
Allemande, from flute partita in a minor (with mute)
Explanation of Bach's ability to use a single-voiced instrument to turn melody into harmonic development, almost architecture.
Prelude, from Suite in E-flat
After Bach, by Netta Hadari (premiered November 2019)
Largo from violin sonata in C (with practice mute)
Gigue, from Suite in C
The Swan (muted), transitioning directly into
Prelude, from Suite in G (*reprise, and this is when the grosbeak decided to visit, just before the final few bars)
A neighbor, who the hostess had never met, stopped by on the sidewalk to say that he had enjoyed the music while eating dinner at his house.
More conversation, fond goodbyes
"There was something magical, transformative and healing about your gift of music to that small group in Lincoln that you performed for. I was moved and in awe of the power of music to transform so much at a time when our fears and worries cloud the gifts life offers us each day. Thank you so much for making many people feel loved and lifted by your musical gift, your voice and sense of empathy and understanding."
This post is to document my evolving programming decisions, as I begin to accumulate a wealth of backyard concert experience this summer.
"My dear friend _____ gave me your name. She said you are a wonderful cellist and came to her yard to play a concert a few days ago. It is my husband's 60th birthday this Sunday. I would love to surprise him somehow, and was wondering if you might possibly be free to play for a half an hour in our backyard? It's a very private space. Let me know if this would be at all possible. He loves the Bach cello concertos."
1. Prelude in G ("I'm sure that you know this one.")
5. Minuets 1 & 2
Conversation about any music education experience, jazz interest, daughter's flute lessons
7. Allemande, from flute partita in a minor (with mute)
8. Dvorak Humoresque
9. Brahms Waltz
10. Air, with mute and beginning with bass line
Explanation of Bach suites and importance of keys, preludes as fantasies
11. Prelude in E-flat
12. Allemande in d minor (with mute)
13. Gigue in d minor (with mute)
14. Largo from violin sonata in C (with mute)
15. The Swan, transitioning directly into
16. Prelude in G (reprise)
Further conversation, chatting with neighbors who had pulled up lawn chairs in their adjacent backyards.
17. Encore for dinner guests who had just arrived: Sarabande in D (transposed to G so I didn't have to deal with thumb position)
"Thank you again for that marvelous concert this evening. It has been a long time since I felt so relieved to hear music. Having you and your cello in our back yard, under the trees and the sky, with our neighbors quietly listening, and my husband so transported, I felt the terrible ache of the world recede. Not vanish, but recede. What you are giving to people by coming to their homes to play outside is deeply generous."
Sharing student project documentation and, more recently, my own.