Monday, December 17, 2007

It's a Small World

It's truly a small world. On Saturday, Rita invited me to join her in going to a concert in Paris. A high school friend of hers was playing Gershwin. You can take me to hear Gershwin any time. So, we went. First of all, we discovered the Institut Polonais in Paris on Ile St. Louis, facing the 5th. Such a location! And it's a beautiful building, recently restored. It looks like they have some interesting programs and the artwork on display was already well-worth the visit.

The first part of the program was a Polish: Szymanowski (wikipedia, article in French), played by a Polish pianist, Teresa Czekaj. She's good; I just don't get excited by that kind of music. There were a few pieces from the first part of his career very reminiscent of Chopin and then the rest was from more twentieth century influences.

And then came the second half of the program: Jay Gottlieb playing Gershwin. I wasn't the only one in the audience almost dancing in my seat. You should have seen the heads bopping and the feet tapping, shoulders swaying.... For me it was special - if I closed my eyes, it was almost like hearing my mother play. Okay, she couldn't let herself play so loudly, but still, she was good. He played some songs, some pieces written for piano, and a suite from "Porgy and Bess" that he transcribed. I didn't realize how familiar Gershwin is to me. I thought I only knew a few tunes, but I think I recognized almost everything he played - maybe not all the pieces for piano, but still, they sounded so familiar. He got called back for several encores and could hardly get out of the room.

Rita wanted to say hello, of course. And we lingered. Rita introduced me to Jay. As we were lingering, I recognized someone - where from? AAWE? AARO? WICE? Turns out it's AAWE. So we had a nice chat. We both recognized each other and were running through the same list of organizations. We hope to run into each other again. Chilla's kids are about the same age as Louis and Anne, but if I got it right, they're in New York. The immediate result is that I am now on the Hilary Clinton mailing list.

But the clincher comes later. Yesterday, I wrote to Jay to thank him for the wonderful evening and, thinking that we're all about the same generation, asked if he knew my high school friend, Beth Levin, a fellow professional musician. I haven't seen her since high school, but keep moderately up to date via Erica. Turns out they have a friend in common and know of each other, even if they are not really acquainted -- enough so that Jay had her e-mail address, which he sent to me. And getting her address on December 17 meant I just had to write to her -- we had a joint Beth-Beethoven birthday party a "few" years ago, that I've never forgotten. (I found the picture and think I recognize Terry!) So now I'm back in touch with Beth and looking forward to whenever her schedule brings her to France!

So, it's a small world.

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