Virtuosi Matters

June 2011

This is my very first of High Notes from Harry. I could have titled these messages as VIRTUOSI MATTERS, because it does, and that’s what I will be writing to you about from time to time.

Similarly, you should feel free to write to me directly. Treat me as your personal Complaints Department (we get so few), or your Plaudits Department (a tremendously overworked bureaucracy at Virtuosi Concerts). Either way, I will respond.

Today, I want to remind you of only two items mentioned at the last two concerts. First, although the new season has been announced by means of a brief brochure resulting in over 100 subscriptions to date (!!), the large colourful brochure is going to the printers shortly and will be mailed out to you as early as next week, with luck. If you have not done so as yet, subscribe now to help secure your priority for your preferred seats.

Second, on Saturday, May 7, a special President’s Concert will feature a most extraordinary artist. Pianist/composer DOUGLAS FINCH grew up in Winnipeg as my next door neighbour. His mother, Lois Finch, was his first piano teacher and also taught my four sons. What a wonderful next-door convenience for Kathy and me, and a warm supportive context for my kids.

Decades ago in the summer when the doors were open, I could hear the thirteen-year-old Douglas playing the most difficult Chopin Etudes while I sat on my front porch, marvelling (but also green with envy).

A few years later, he developed this truly brilliant talent for improvisation. He would request several melodies and themes from the audience, pause at the keyboard with eyes closed meditatively for 30 seconds, and then launch into a new composition based on these several themes. In short, he would create a deep and utterly original piece of music on the spot.

I once asked him how does he do it. I’m a psychologist and wanted to know. Even his mother wanted to know. He said: *Harry, anyone can do it!*

Twenty-five years later, after he had been teaching improvisation to countless students, I had the chutzpah to ask: *So, Doug, is it really true? Can anyone learn how to do it?*  He sheepishly answered, *Apparently not*.

This is his first Winnipeg recital in over 15 years. Come enjoy and marvel with me.

Tickets: $35/15; subscribers $30/15. • Call 786-9000.