On Monday, 16 January 2017 I met Hans Joachim and his wife, Christine Martha Roedelius in the canteen of the Volksbühne theater. Hans Joachim was giving a concert together with Arnold Kasar in the Red Salon.
That gave me a flashback:
just a few weeks earlier I played my second workshop concert at the same venue, also on a Monday, on the same piano, with the same lighting, the same seating arrangement and the same electric atmosphere in the full auditorium.
Now I met the man in person, with whom I had only corresponded by letter to date.
And at the end of our meeting, the couple came up to me and asked, “Would you like to play at our More Ohr Less – Festival?”
Just five months later, I was there. And from the beginning I felt like I was among a community of like-minded people: a congregation of warm-spirited, skilled, interested, politically motivated people, playing a range of different venues spread around the famous town of Baden near Vienna. Outside the incredibly beautiful parks (in which dogs are not, unfortunately, allowed to run free). Inside the fantastic rooms of the museum.
Each minute I spent there felt like a true “gift of the moment”. The broad spectrum of the music correlated with fine art, talks, performances, natural experiences, photography, film, architecture, communication, joy, peace, contemplation, human interaction.
I love the elegant yet relaxed manner you only find in Austria. It is still a country that still resounds to the sound of people making music at every corner or at play in the theater or reading and painting or making films.
My concert was scheduled for Wednesday, 7pm in the Arnulf Rainer Museum.
As curious as I am, I went to check out the museum at 10am – at first I was totally alone with the really nice staff and was able to wander through the collections and rooms totally undisturbed, taking them all in. It felt to me like this was a place of ABSOLUTE PEACE AND ABSOLUTE STRENGTH, the PERSONALIZATION of the spirit of the festival.
At 12:30 the grand piano arrived from Vienna. I could scarcely believe my eyes! It was an amazing instrument, a 2.8m Bösendorfer 280 VC-17, a veritable work-of-art in itself!! We placed it in the middle of the room and spoke about Friedrich Gulda. Then I began to play on it – and now could hardly believe my ears, nor my hands …
what is a better comparison? Maybe someone who loves driving great cars and then gets to sit behind the wheel of a Rolls Royce or a Lamborghini… it was an instrument that said, “Hey, I can do everything! I am absolutely precise, in every nuance. The only question that remains is what YOU can manage to get out of me.” It was a dream sound, a dream full of opportunities!
Since I have started giving concerts again, I had never been so happy to give the concert, simply because I wanted to hear the piano and play it again. There was simply no place left for nerves or stage-fright!
After the concert, the Roedeliuses asked me, “Would you like to play another performance at the improvisation tomorrow with Tim Story, Christopher Chaplin and Roedelius?” … ???
What I then experienced the next day playing with the three was an unforgettable experience. So beautiful, it made such an impression, so easy, so shared, so attentive, so free …. like a light breeze …