Named as one of the “gifted young violinists who are among the vanguard leading the march of violin art into the 21st century…” ANAT MALKIN ALMANISo few events these days are able to take us out of ourselves – away from the threat of war on every continent, the economic crisis world-wide, the increase in crime, poverty, natural and man-made disasters – that to be treated to an evening of bliss was a rare and much appreciated occasion.

The setting was perfect!

A small town Gothic church with stained glass windows aglow with vibrant colors; cool, almost-summer-breezes filling the air with the fresh scent of blooming flowers, while one by one and couple by couple the rows were peopled with everyone there for the same reason: to be entertained, to listen to musicians playing their instruments.

The program of the evening included: Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111,
Chopin’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in G Minor, Op. 65 CT.204 and Cesar Franck’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major. I wish I could say that I am well versed in music. Unfortunately, I am not. Yet, I do – as most people, I assume – know what pleases me and what doesn’t, what excites me and what comforts me. With Cullen Bryant at the piano playing Beethoven; Julia Lighten, cellist and Christopher Oldfather, pianist, playing Chopin; and Anat Malkin Almani, violinist with Joanne Polk, pianist playing Franck; I found myself swept into swirls of images, memories awakened, first quickly, then slowly, but always in a state of consciousness that went beyond consciousness. The universal language of music with its sounds and rhythms filled not merely my ears but my soul … reaching heights seldom reached in the daily life of mundane meanderings.

Creating music as intensely lovely as love itself, we, in the audience, were suspended, taken along with the sweet and the sorrowful, the shrill and the soft sounds that both grounded us and allowed us to soar, as the pianist’s fingers climbed the keys of ivory and black and the violinist’s bow gracefully embraced its instrument, swaying all the while as we sat, separately and yet connected by the music – centuries old – but then, in the moment, new and nuanced. Barely noticing when a page was turned, we who listened became enraptured with the rapture.

If only governments and world leaders who opt to have their soldiers fight and murder in the name of religion, in the name of greed, in the name of all that is anything but holy … if only they could be driven by the passion that allows composers to create and musicians to play, perhaps then the world that I so long for – a world of peace, harmony, and beauty – could rule without prejudice or judgement but communicate through talent in ways that feed the soul and simultaneously excite and soothe the heart. How uncluttered by trivia and disaster, evil and envy our lives would be! How thrilling and magnificent life could be!

Yet, when the final piece was performed, not even Anat Malkin Almani’s palpable halo of joy and accomplishment could follow us out into a new and better world. Whatever we heard that filled our heads and warmed our hearts would have to remain inside each of us. We could not spread its magic across the world. Perhaps if we could – in my imagined perfect world – we could change the course of history. To all those brilliant performers, I express my personal gratitude. For that evening, at least, I was transported. I was fully alive and in the moment, purely and unabashedly enjoying myself. I dedicate this blog to the healing power of music and the need for each of us to find healing wherever, however, we are able to do so!

With best wishes for a wonder-filled week.