Concert Nine: 7/22/22 at The Gables at East Mountain
click any image to enlarge
Scarlatti Sonata in D minor, K.9 (preceded by 9 ii-V-I’s)
There are a number of options to play in Rutland, but most of them are in Rutland City, which is a distinct municipality that separated in 1892 from Rutland Town, which now surrounds the city. Other chunks of what was once Rutland Town were split off to form Proctor and West Rutland. The end result is that there are not a lot of public buildings in Rutland Town. So we were happy to accept the invitation of Stephanie Coltey to play at The Gables, a senior living center, even though the concert would not be open to the public because of strict Covid restrictions, knowing that there would be a future concert in Rutland City in a more open setting. I played for an appreciative audience of 35 Gables residents.
I noticed a funny thing about my thinking when playing for an all-seniors crowd. I’ve played senior centers my whole performing career, and I often come prepared to play some of what is likely “their music”—which to me means the popular music of the 1930s and 1940s, the Great American Songbook. But of course, that’s the music of the seniors of my youth. Today’s seniors might have been at Woodstock. Although I unconsciously update my awareness of what’s current for a general audience, for some reason “seniors” are for me frozen in 1985. By the same token, I imagine them 50 years older than I am, where in reality some members of the Gables audience might have had just a dozen years on me.
Gables Activities Director Stephanie Coltey filled in Rutland Town
Apparently I need my hands for talking as well as playing.
The Nordiska Piano Company was founded over 100 years ago in the Swedish town of Vetlanda. Soon after, Nordiska pianos were known throughout Europe for their advanced scale design and superior sound. In 1988, Europe was in the midst of a deep recession, and the Swedish piano manufacturer ceased operations. The Dongbei Piano Company, located in China, aspired to produce a superior Chinese piano and proceeded to acquire the scale designs, machinery, and virtually everything else from the Nordiska Piano Company.
I wasn’t able to date the piano precisely, but I’m pretty sure it’s from the Dongbei era. It was very evenly regulated, but the repetition was oddly sluggish (as you can maybe hear from some kludgy trills in the Scarlatti above). The residents make good use of it, including a fine pianist who gives regular concerts for his fellow Gables denizens. One of them asked me what I thought of it; I said it was great to find a grand piano that was regularly played and tuned. She said “Well, we don’t like it!” Apparently, it was bought by a prior activities director who failed to consult with the many musical residents. That said, my real struggle was with the AC, which we had to leave on (it was a muggy day in the 90s) but which had a loud fan that really messed with my pitch perception.