From Ravinia to Garden City

Posted on Oct 28th, 2011 by Jeanne Golan

Finding my equilibrium after the Yom Kippur weekend, a natural time to take stock of things. During the Yiskor service, looked up and saw a plaque for a Maurice Ulman.  Different spelling, no relation, I’m sure, but got me thinking about the various places I’ve brought my Ullmann’s music to in recent months.

Ravinia was all I’d hoped – Martin Concert Hall a jewel box from 100 years ago with stenciled décor and wonderfully resonant acoustics.  I had a choice of two pianos.  Chose the one that few choose, apparently.  A soulful instrument with a huge expressive range that let me sink into it in the most organic way.  So grateful for the technician who knew how the most detailed adjustments to pedals and voicing can make the sound sing.  The combined energy of the performances, James Conlon’s contextual remarks and a warm, welcoming audience in the hall and picnicking on the grounds on a beautiful summer’s night made for one of those times when I could disappear and the music became all.  They tell me the concert is somewhere on the WFMT website for download, but think I’ll let the memory serve.

A couple weeks ago, brought different Sonatas to school for a very different audience make-up.  To rework them has been amazing – new ideas of phrasing, construction.  As ever, my students and the Garden City community showed up en mass and allowed themselves to get caught up in what they were hearing.  Even on a midweek day at noon, as uninitiated as they are in such cultural experiences largely coming from poor and immigrant backgrounds, I’ve always loved how they genuine are.  And of course, it equally speaks to how gripping Ullmann’s music and story are, whoever is there to hear it.


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