Media electronics are not welcomed at some idyllic locations where artists gather to perform while working on a large farm in a pristine forest in northern California. They live in Nature at a cell phone free and non-computer-TV-radio alcohol or drug zone in a world filled with bad news, commercialism, false promises, and violence. Does this sound melodramatic? Escaping the hum drum of American cities still holds an attraction for many who long for the quiet of small town relationships, farm lands, vegetable gardens, fresh organic produce, and mutual respect and kindness.
It is in keeping with an early twentieth century German scientist’s philosophy and performing eurhythmy, a kind of dance movement that is an expression of spiritual and artistic values to the best classical music, Shakespeare-or other literary giant, poetry, humor, on stages in robes of silk wearing tight fitting slippers that permit swift and graceful movement on hardwood floors.
We joined in bio dynamic fertilizing their vegetable and flower gardens, removing dirt and excess leaves from a barrel full of onions, to make them ready for sale to their community at low prices, and picked fresh bio-dynamically grown carrots, parsnips, onions, cabbage, beets for meals that were tasty, nutritious, and cheap.
The last evening we heard an amazing piano concert from a Croatian pianist in a loose fitting black tuxedo who played Brahms’ first two Cantatas that lasted about one-half hour each with a loud applause after each performance. He demonstrated his astounding command of the piano in a relaxed way for a 6'4", 250 pound pianist, who swayed as a dancer while feeling the beauty and harmony of the notes Brahms wrote. He was the music.
After much applause he played Brahms variations on Paganini that featured a series of hand movements and sounds I have never seen before. At the same time he moved both hands about a third of the way from the left and right sides of the keyboard to near the center while moving his fingers rapidly in what is called a tremolo. That reminded me in a strange analogy of how a lawn mower cuts blades of grass but all his fingers were rotating up and down over keys that his hands sent three times from the left to right and back together harmonically in tune with the magnificent music!
Finally, after the audience greeted him with five minutes of loud hand-clapping, he returned for a finale. He sat gently down, extended his arms outward with fingers extended and then with knuckles parallel to the keys, rested his left hand fingers immediately over the keys on the extreme left. Again using a tremolo, but this time more like a buzz saw (maybe a terrible analogy for art) cutting blades of wheat, as they hovered over the keys that magically created a stunning deep bass sound telling us something the composer who hadn't been identified and the pianist wanted to fasten in our memory forever.
When he finished the audience burst into a chaotic frenzy of applause with astonishment on their faces, smiling with joy, for the longest period of the concert. He stood and bowed smiling and nodding his appreciation for the spontaneous reaction. After a few more bows he left behind a curtain.
During a ten minute period where no one knew whether he was finished or would return for another piece, it was clear he had finished the concert as the Russian pianist who brought him to the concert announced and the crowd slowly moved out of the auditorium beaming from the musical experience.
After most of the audience had departed, the pianist appeared at the end of the hall leading to the exit with the Russian piano teacher who asked him to perform for the group. A curious student asked the pianist about his finale. Standing next to her, I was with my wife and daughter. He said the work was from Liszt who wrote of his extreme sadness upon Wagner's death, and entitled his short work, "The Sad Gondola." Since his pronunciation was difficult the Russian made it clear to all. The pianist now in civilian clothes was relaxed and smiled generously to his admirers as he left gracefully.
While the piece remains in my memory, I will describe the feeling as a unique awareness of the fantastic ability of an artist to make the piano send out an extraordinary and haunting sound. The effect remains an artistic expression difficult to imagine without an effort of explanation, but easy to say was unforgettable, energetic, and blazing with intensity.