Barn + Baroque = Heaven

This weekend we had the pleasure of hearing Simone Dinnerstein perform a series of baroque music pieces for solo piano in a benefit put on the Berkshire Bach Society. It took place in a restored barn in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, which was an extraordinary location (apparently the barn was relocated from Chatham NY, restored and rebuilt beam by beam).

Beautiful Barn

Ms. Dinnerstein performed works by four different composers with no sheet music and no break, for more than an hour of continuous music.

Inside the barn

The program was an impressive series of pieces that the performer strung together as a result of their “rondo” forms in common. She played them without breaks in between, and of course straight through without a single sheet of music to look at.

S Dinnerstein May 2019 Recital

I found Shumann’s Arabesque to be particularly wonderful. Apparently he wrote it at a time of deep melancholy but also a time of passion for his wife-to-be Clara, and to me it sounded very “Up” and uplifting. Here is a discussion of his supposed state of mind at the age of 29, when he wrote it (link):

His relationship with Clara Wieck had reached a point of no return, as her father vehemently opposed anything that might interfere with his daughter’s career as a pianist and strongly disapproved of Schumann as a possible son-in-law. Geographically yet not emotionally detached from Clara, he was able to communicate with her only through letters and in his own music. This has been proposed as an explanation for this work, which alternates passages of wistful longing with more robust, declamatory episodes.

In today’s turbulent world, one can only wonder at the peace and High Culture that is an event like this. The deepest gratitude is the clear choice of responses.

Mt Pleasant

We explored Mount Pleasant, South Carolina recently and it’s quite the booming town in the last ten years. ¬†Charleston’s many restaurants feature live music almost every night of the week, which is a great salvation versus the Northeast, where you’ll travel a lot of miles before you stumble on a decent jazz or blues group.

Mt Pleasant SC

Baroque music in the Hudson Valley

Last night I was lucky enough to attend a performance of Baroque music by four classical musicians — Cello, Piano, and two singers (a Soprano and a Baritone). The event¬†took place in a small church in the Hudson Valley and it was sublime.

In the photo below you can see the church steeple nestled in the trees.


The program included works by Bach, Handel, and Vitali, and I will confess to having experienced strong feelings of appreciation for western culture — its music, its architecture, its spirituality (“Rejoice greatly” was particularly moving, from Handel’s Messiah), its overall sensibility.

It occurred to me that three of the four performers were women and that in many parts of the world (and across thousands of years of history) women are not being / would not have been afforded the opportunity to excel and stand tall as world-class musicians. For that matter, in some places music itself is considered taboo.

But we are here, now, and rejoice greatly.