Against my interest of writer (who always wants to be read), I’m gonna warn you that this post is actually for nobody else apart myself.
If you’re one of my four readers, you’ll find this completely inconsistent with anything posted here; if you’re one of the guys it is addressed to, still there’s too many words and too unnecessary self-analysis (though, believe me, I DID cut a lot of the original material), while a simple “thanks for the beautiful summer nights you gave me” would be more than enough.
I’m not a public diary kind of guy.
I find it at times useful and healthy to put feelings and thoughts down into words, but mostly the simple act is enough, no need for publication.
The following was part of a series of short writings that had the purpose of recollecting, ordering and archiving part of a surprising stream of feels I got from attending a local music festival. It took the form of an open letter to the young players performing there but I didn’t bother asking myself why, that was not important. I didn’t really plan to post it.
Even totally aware of that, still I can’t avoid the thought that a message (and a little part of it still is, genuinely that) should never be left unsent.
In a sense, this is a little act of selfishness.
Which is what blogs are (also) made for.
Bear with me.
Wonderful students of the Cremona International Academy, I’ve been to almost your concerts, fully attentive in the first lines of seats, during Cremona Summer Festival.
Some of you may have not bothered to pay attention to me, some may have. That’s not important.
With some of you I had a little positive chat (hey Ivan, hey Max), with slightly longer exchanges, others were kind enough to answer some questions (thanks, Kevin). Some of you were pleased or a little embarrassed by the compliments I vomited on you about your performances (Andrii, relax dude. You’re great).
With others, my most caveman-like social attitude really shined and in just one case, that is still one too much, I created kind of a little incident (that maybe was worse in my mind that in actual reality). One of you could even witness one of my embarrassing moments of totally dumb confusion (lucky you, Mallory – darn Sala Maffei).
It was my first time at the Festival and I took it as an opportunity to dive myself into music (I really enjoy the ritualistic element of festivals), observing playing techniques in real life from a short distance to help with my private sort-of-composition-studies and discovering new pieces (a special thanks to the guys playing mov. I from the awesome Franck’s piano quintet, now a favourite of mine). I was exposed to plenty of interesting material.
I also took the chance to escape from myself and other gloom (and, boy, I needed it).
I was merely expecting distraction; and yet I received so much solace, enjoyment and beauty, from you and your brilliant teachers, that was precious and welcome more that you can imagine. Healing. Almost. Music alone can’t be enough, but for sure it can help you remember how essential, important and vitalizing beauty is.
Also, a turmoil of contrasting thoughts and feelings was awoken; but most of it was a good thing, cause now I know myself a little better.
I felt an applause was not enough to give back what received. Too distant and impersonal. Unbalanced.
That, and the unusual nature of this festival, where players are a recurring and familiar presence, ignited the desire of breaking a bit the stage/audience barrier. That instinct is not so usual of me, and it took me time and some trial-and-error to understand it and translate it in fully or (more likely) partially functional social exchange.
I’m not sure how much alien this will sound to you. The younger you are, the sillier you’ll see it, I guess.
During those three weeks, while my heart was decompressing and my mind focusing, the numbness melting a bit and a different conscience resurfacing, I got to recognize your faces and to remember those names I could more easily associate with personality and style.
There’s only one heart for every human being, therefore only one could stole mine (yep, you, again), but many of you could reach it, and pass through all the leaded barriers around it: Christine, with your straightforward and a little over the top youthful passion, your unmistakable vibrant sound, your heart-opening Sibelius (you’re awesome, girl, I loved it so much); Ahava, with your crystal clear and articulated baroque voice, a nightingale on human size, able to get me with each high pitched vibrato no matter what you’re singing (you squeezed me a couple tears; not many did); Ruggero, with your beautiful and narrative rendition of Tzigane, despite you think it was not impeccable; Dennis, Emily, Alyssa, Brian, Lyrica (aka the one that always smiles on stage), Maria, Jeremy, Sabina, and I’m sure I’m forgetting someone.
So all this rumbling, apart from helping me put to rest all those beautiful feels (that already start to feel fading and far away), is to tell you that while you were living this academy mainly as practice, experience and study, while not being aware of it, you were doing at least one guy real good (and maybe others, who knows?).
Music (art) has this soothing power. It nurtures. It redeems. Sometimes, it even awakens. It’s not just a matter of mere performance, it’s communication (a guy called Tagg defined it, at the beginning of the Eighties, as a form of inter-human communication in which individually experienceable affective states and processes are conceived and transmitted as humanly organised nonverbal sound structures to those capable of decoding their message in the form of adequate affective and associative response – that, OK, it’s a little technical and masturbatory way of saying it).
Even more: it’s connection, almost a temporary (and unequal) form of relationship, that lasts just the time the air vibrates. You’ll never know in advance how much or how little what you do will mean to the other side. All you can do is to stay true and never underestimate how precious it is. Like love, I guess. That, with music, has a lot in common. And it goes beyond the surface of things, or technical evaluation, and all the self-critique you can apply to your own performance, pointing out every single mistake, fault and stain. The point, here, the simple point is that I was in need of something (not even knowing myself what it was – and that doesn’t even call to be defined by words) and you gave it to me; you were talking, I was listening. Had I attended the festival the previous years, I could have reacted differently. And maybe next time I will.
But this year, this time, this happened.
And for that, again, thank you all.
Take this little thought (that sounds a little obvious, even though the obvious is exactly what sometimes we fail to see) and make whatever you want with it.
Till next summer, if you’ll come back.
PS (1). This beautiful short film I’ve stumbled upon recently tells it better than all my words, I guess.
PS (2). If you want to leave some feedback, feel free to do it. At the very least I’ll know this reached you.