Wednesday, February 16, 2011



It is a perfect morning and my little suitcase seemed to pack itself. It has been two amazing days in Valdivia, arriving on Valentine's Day, going straight to the press conference in the Dreams Hotel, then soundcheck and concert in the Teatro Municipal Lord Cochran, to begin La Semana Valdivia in this high summer holiday destination spot, as charming as any river town in Maine or Cape Cod.

Subhira invited me to play here. I met him almost twenty years ago when he came to California and we have talked about doing a concert here since then. This South American trip has been long overdue!

The piano was a Yamaha, like an old friend, and I played with all the enjoyment and savoring of a final concert. Afterwards, standing in the lobby and greeting the audience, i noticed a big poster of Roberto Bravo, a celebrated Chilean pianist and personality whose manager, Yolanda Andrade, I had met in Frutillar at my first Chilean concert, and so I decided to stay one more night here ......and I'm so glad I did!

Roberto is a Chilean treasure and I especially loved the music he played after reciting poems by Pablo Neruda. Even though Spanish is still not fluent for me, one just cannot miss the directness and passion of Neruda's love poems. He claims one's soul the way explorers claimed a new land.

So today I will join Subhira and the other musicians from his group in Pucon, a place I've wanted to see ever since I saw a photo of it on Subhira's poster so many years ago. A few days of vacation and then back to San Francisco, back to where the moon grows from right to left and not left to right, back to the sister America that is just a bit older than this one but sharing all the same European DNA and legacy of fights for independence and dubious conquerings of indigenous peoples. It is a mirror image and carries with it the shimmering light of a spiritual reflection.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011



I am writing only now, at the airport lounge waiting to go to Santiago and then Valdivia for the final concert tomorrow night, Valentine's Day. The concert here Friday night was great. Somehow, even though I had not slept well since Monday due to nocturnal Mardi Gras festivities and 7:00 AM construction starts outside my window at the Plaza Fuerte, I had amazing energy. I was joined by a Uruguayan cellist, Lucreta Balsaldua, who nailed Sargasso Sea with precision and passion. I am totally inspired to write more music for her. And Viviana Guzman was on fire...I think we played together our best ever. I wish we had recorded some of this, but, alas, I never remember to do that and it all goes into the ether.

Juan Carlos, my probably most avid fan on this earth, produced the concert with great heart if not with great experience. It is so difficult to mastermind a concert, not just the technical production, but all the necessary promotion. We did the rounds of radio stations and I saw my picture in the paper every day, sometimes with lengthy articles that I have not read yet. I am always shy about reading anything written about me because when there are inaccuracies, it is just too late to do anything about it and I would rather just trust.

We are boarding now. Back to Chile. But in many ways I have left my heart in Montevideo.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mendoza Concert

It's 2:30 in the morning and the concert is over and my bags are packed. What an amazing night. Sold out, with standing room only tickets sold out, too. And lines of people turned away. All the months of preparation that went into this event, the publicity - posters, radio, television, press - everything Julio and Gabriela accomplished.
I have to come back here- it is too sad to think about all the people I've met, Julio's children, little Victoria who gave me a rubber bracelet of a seahorse and a tennis racquet, little Franco with a smile that could enchant a stone, Paula, a woman in the making, and the wonderful friends at the dinner the night before the concert, Fernanda, Silvania, Fabbio, Raoul ......
The warmth of the audience after the concert was stunning, really. I guess that is what it is all about..we shared something very special.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Update from Mendoza, Argentina

I see now that blogging is not unchallenging.  When there is no wi-fi the process can get stifled!
So, here I am, already 6 days later and, not having checked in, forget most of what has happened.

Today I went down for breakfast and low and behold saw a newspaper with a front cover interview, complete with multiple color photos,  that Julio Mazziotti and I did yesterday at "UNO," a media empire here that also presented us on a live TV show yesterday morning.  That was how we started the day.  Then we continued our promotional blitz doing a few radio interviews in which I actually spoke  Spanish somehow.  I hope it was at least charming if not accurate.

And our poster is all over the place- at every bus stop and newspaper stand!

Then we went on to a press conference filled with government cultural representatives from both Mendoza and Italy, which is also sponsoring the concert.  I am always amazed at the turnout in foreign countries for the press.  And how informed the questions always are.  There is a real respect for the arts that I have rarely (never) experienced in the USA.

Last night we went to the theater and tried out the piano.  It is a brand new Steinway and quite stiff.  I think I will have to cut my nails even more so that I can apply lots of deep contact to this green instrument. The theater is a jewel, with tiers of private boxes and lots of gold and velvet.  It reminded me a little of La Fenice in Venice, but not as ornamented.

Today, we went to a Mendozan winery and I was impressed by the size of the oak barrels- holding 50,000 liters if I recall correctly.  The white wine was quite good, with a smokey flavor that seems to characterize all the wines I've tried here.  I couldn't sample the Malbec because I am allergic to reds, but I was not impressed with the bouquet.

I have to be careful here not to praise Chilean wines, because there are hostile relations between Argentinians and Chileans.  They never express this antagonism directly in speech, but once I figured it out by noticing consistently non-emotive reactions to any of my enthusiasms for Chile,  I learned to forget that Chile exists for the time being.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Frutillar Chile

Blog continued.

Frutillar Chile
Out of my window in the Victorian hotel near the theater, I see the glacier across the lake, looking like a version of Mt. Fuji. What I notice the most about this place is the pure sweet smell of the air. I just want to breathe in. The plants all look like they're on steroids.

Today we rehearsed. Mahani, the Chilean pianist who lives now in Berlin, played with Viviana first, then I warmed up in someone's private home on a Blutner piano. And then, after lunch, we all went over to the theater to play in the concert venue. It is not a huge theater, but couldn't be more exquisite, with a view of the lake and the volcanic mountain framed by floor to ceiling windows behind the stage. I think it was Mallorca where there was a similar theater.

I did a brief interview with a Santiago reporter who clearly hates anything associated with "new age.". Oh my. The classical snobism again. They can be pleased only by dissonance and complexity, both of which are way too easy to achieve.

Oh well.

This morning I took a great walk on the beach with a big golden dog, not sure what kind.
He came up to me with a stick and laid it at my feet. I picked it up and threw it. He chased it and brought it back. We did that for an hour, traveling along the shore heading away from town. At the far end of our walk, I was finally overwhelmed with the random deposits of plastic trash and picked up a plastic bag and started loading it with plastic wrappers, plastic bottles, plastic this and that, hoping that at least this stuff wouldn't find it's way into the gullet of a bird or fish. Fido was patient until we returned towards town and dumped the huge load into a virgin trash receptacle. It was completely empty, either from being unused or assiduously emptied.

There is music everyplace in this town. Right now I hear a violin outside the window.
It is a culture fest. Lovely.


I'm waiting in my dressing room to go onstage. All is well, but I forgot my jewelry and there is nothing to eat here except chocolate. Chocolate will do the trick. I need energy to perform and it is lunchtime now.

The theater is magnificent and new. From what I understand with my limited Spanish, this building was built last year only, though the festival, La Semanas Musicales de Frutillar, has been going on for over forty years here.

I guess I'll rest a bit.

One hour later
The stage manager just came in and twenty minutes. It's like waiting for a sentence. It's at times like this that I wonder why I do this. One goes from total isolation and stillness to burst upon the stage with nuclear energy. And then it's over after 45 minutes. There's no way around it but through it. I wish I could be eating a big sandwich right now. My hands are cold and the water won't get hot to warm them. The makeup lights are really hot, so I can hold my hands nearby. I'll go do that now.

After the concert

Oh my. What a whirlwind. My CDs sold out in 5 seconds. I brought only 50 here so I would have some for other concerts. The problem is that on the little airlines one has to pay a huge premium for extra weight, which is absurd, because I weighed half what the man beside me weighed. Just a way for Sky Airlines, this time - it was EasyJet in Italy- to justify scraping up a bit more cash.

Anyway, it was so so beautiful, the concert and eventually I will have some photos from the official photographers who promised they would send some.

Now we are off to Santiago.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

South American Update

Here I am at the bottom of the earth, where Magellan sailed through the maze of waterways to find a route to the other side of his world. For me, it seemed to take almost as long to get here: 8 hours San Francisco to Lima, 4 hours Lima to Santiago , 4 hours Santiago to Punta Arenas, 7 hours, this time by car, to Estancia Tercera Barranca.

Patagonia is big and windy... It is difficult to open the car doors, it is so windy. There is, not surprisingly, no Wi-Fi here. There is no electricity past 1:00 AM, no problem, and no telephone at all ... just radio contact. Not a good place to have an emergency, though I am sure they can handle just about anything.

I am here with Viviana Guzman. We have a concert in a few days in Frutillar and thought it would be nice to have this little adventure while recovering from the long trip to Chile.

I'm sitting in front of the wood stove now, listening to the wind outside. Viviana has gone to another building to play her flute. Piano is another story. There is one in this park actually, about 2 hours from here, and we will go there either tomorrow or the next day so that we can rehearse together. I need to show her the new piece I wrote in Venice, "Tango Venezia," that keeps going through my head.

We did go to rehearse, with an appointment at the chic Explora Club, nestled above a waterfall and with a view that is priceless, though a room costs $1200 per day with a four day minimum. We arrived in the early afternoon and went through our set, attracting an appreciative small crowd. The stalwart Steinway hated any key with more than two flats. For lunch we were served an impeccably presented sandwich and then perused the low key and understatedly elegant surroundings. There was a quotation on the wall to the effect that we travel in order to come back to where we started and see it as if for the first time. Nice.

Alas, there were no rooms available and so we drove on to a nearby place that was a nightmare compared to the dream we had been in....noisy, cold, with inedible food that tasted of old grease. Viviana got sick in the cold and I didn't sleep at all.

So, here we are now in the lovely little lodging where we started out and it all seems to have gone by so quickly. I just looked at my photos and see the condors and guanaco and ostrich type birds and lambs and sheep and horses and endless vistas of mountains, glaciers and big sky.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Packing for South America

I am leaving day after tomorrow for my first ever South American Tour.
This is a tour that has been on my wish list for more years than I dare to say.
So, finally, like any good Indie Artist, I decided to bootstrap the process and enlist the support of my fans.  Years of waiting on various agents produced no useful results. So now I am packing my concert dresses and bathing suits and a hefty load of CDs that I hope will not create excess baggage fees and flying off to meet my fans and explore summer in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay.

 January 29th.
Concert in Frutillar, Chile with Flautist Viviana Guzman
February 6. 
Concert in Mendoza, Argentina with Julio Mazziotti, a pianist I met in Mallorca late last year at the  PRIMER ENCUENTRO INTERNACIONAL DE PIANISTAS DEL MUNDO, which is now an annual event!

February 10 and 11.
Concerts in Montevideo, Uruguay, promoted by unrelenting fan Juan Carlos Bacino.
February 10 Solo Piano
February 11 With Flautist Viviana Guzman

February 14th.
Concert in Valdivia, Chile for Valentine's Day.
Promoted by Mundovivo Music and my dear friend Subhira Rodriguez.