4/5/2012 and 4/6/2012
Back to Thursday’s visit to Folkestone for our concert there and visit with Michael and Janice Foad. After our concert and lunch, Mr. Foad took us to Canterbury Cathedral. Parts of it go back 1000 years, and it is still standing and is so huge and so beautiful. We wondered how people even knew how to construct such a building that long ago and without modern technology and equipment. We especially liked the stained glass (some of them were from Chartres Cathedral in France), and we were lucky enough to hear the organist practicing on the huge cathedral organ. It was a marvelous and majestic sound and filled the whole of the cathedral. Amazing!! Earlier in the day – just after our concert in the United Reform Church in Folkestone, Mr. Foad (who is an organist) actually showed us inside the church organ – a restored tracker action organ. We saw the pipes and bellows, and heard the trumpet stop from within the organ! So when hearing the huge cathedral organ we could relate a bit better to it. The Canterbury Cathedral is historic because Thomas à Becket was martyred there and it is also famous for the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer.
Friday was the day before our presentation for the Clementi Award – so we practiced the pianos and the lecture literally ALL DAY LONG! It was a 10 hour day!!! But first, we promised in our last blog entry to say something about our “light bulb” day on this past Monday. When working with the 1842 Pleyel (a piano very similar to the one Chopin actually owned), Ms. Carlock and Steven Devine were discussing Chopin’s pedal markings – which are very difficult to implement exactly on the modern grand piano. Ms. Carlock had been interested in trying to follow the pedal markings more precisely on the Pleyel…and they work wonderfully on that beautiful piano! How exciting to discover that Chopin (who was very precise in his manuscripts) had written down pedal markings that were completely effective on the pianos he owned and used!
|Serim takes a moment away from the bench to pose with the 1866 Erard|
Saturday was the BIG DAY! We did our presentation for David Ward, professor of fortepiano at the Royal College of Music in London. It was almost 2 hours in length. We alternated performances and commentary on the pianos and music and each of us played on four different pianos and covered repertoire from the 1700’s to the late 19th century.
It went SO well – even better than we would ever have dreamed it could! Mr. Ward was extremely complimentary and also had some excellent suggestions and comments. But his response more than justified all our hard work and preparation. We were so pleased and excited and felt we had learned so much from working on the early instruments that will change our thinking completely about how we approach music of earlier eras on the modern grand piano. It was really a sensational day! In the afternoon all three of us (Ms. Carlock too) performed for the annual general meeting of Finchcocks.
This wonderful day ended with a lovely dinner out with Mr. Christopher Clementi who is responsible for giving the Muzio Clementi Award. At the end of the presentation, he gave us certificates – beautifully framed – to commemorate our Awards. It was so nice to meet him and spend time with him and his wife Frances. They are SO nice, and made us feel very special.
4/7 and 4/8
|Cary playing the 1842 Pleyel|
Our last two days at Finchcocks were focused around the Open Day performances at the Museum. It gave us a chance to play several times and much of our music again…and it just seemed to come more easily each time. We felt so extremely comfortable in performance – probably because we had played in public literally almost every day. It is an amazing experience to feel at ease in that way and not be on edge. We also felt (and Ms. Carlock told us so) that we played the pianos more convincingly and with a more complete sense of their possibilities each performance.
We also saw the workshop of the Broadwood Piano Company – which is where Alastair Lawrence (curator of the Museum and Director of the Broadwood Company) builds and restores Broadwood pianos. The Broadwood piano as a “brand” goes back to the 1700’s. It was fascinating to see the machinery that is used, for instance, in bending and molding the rim of a grand piano.
Our Open Day performances also included a really fun piece by the French composer Cecile Chaminade for EIGHT hands at one piano!!! It was written for a silver wedding party and was specifically composed for three little girls and one little boy. We and Ms. Carlock played the three little girls…and Per Løhne – the Norwegian piano technician who helped us every day by keeping all the pianos in beautiful condition by tuning and repairing – played the part of the little boy. We had never played a piece for so many people at one piano and we had a blast!! The audience loved it!
|Four people, eight hands: Serim and Cary with Christopher Clementi (descendant of Muzio) and David Ward|
We are on our way home today! Sad day – although we will obviously be very happy to see our families! We have talked a lot about what we’ve learned from our experience with these marvelous instruments. But we want to say, in closing, how much we benefitted from our experience not only with a ‘foreign’ culture, but by living for 10 days in a very close knit community of incredibly passionate musicians. We felt such a love of music and it was completely contagious. We also loved the British food (fish and chips, fish pie, steak and kidney pie, mushy peas, bread and butter pudding, sticky toffee pudding, AND CREAM TEAS!!!!). We loved some of the terms and expressions as well…such as “jolly good’, “Blymie”, “chips” – meaning French Fries – and “crisps” – meaning potato chips; and “gobsmacked” meaning “shocked” or something similar!
But most of all, we felt the love and support of all the wonderful people who worked with us for the duration of our trip. Ten days is not that long, really, but we came to feel so close and so much like family at Finchcocks that it was really difficult to say ‘goodbye!’ We will treasure this experience and the feelings we have for the people and the pianos forever!