I have not been doing well emotionally, and everything is a chore. Even the things that I normally love to do seem like tasks to accomplish, instead of pleasures to enjoy. So the evening of symphonic music was, sadly, not something that I was looking forward to. I went more out of a sense of obligation (we go with two other friends) than out of a feeling of desire.
And yet – once there, the music was a gift, pure and simple. Berenika, a 27-year-old Polish-born pianist, performed Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2. I am a huge fan of Chopin, and it was because of this concerto that I had selected this performance as one of our events for the season.
Berenika is blonde, beautiful and confident, with the carriage of a fashion model. But that is simply icing on the cake. The woman can play! The concerto was fluid, rippling, like water in a mountain stream. Her hands danced across the keyboards, using some of the most exquisite legato that I have ever witnessed. Everything flowed together in a medley of sound, and I was sitting on the edge of my seat, leaning into each note with her. In one word: gorgeous.
Berenika began playing the piano at age three, won her first competition at five, and first performed as a soloist with an orchestra at age nine. She grew up in Canada, attended Juilliard, and later Harvard and Oxford. There’s a great video of her on the Santa Rosa Symphony website. She also has her own website, Berenika Online.
The evening included a magnum opus, a newly composed piece being played for the first time. The composer is Behzad Ranjbaran, an Iranian, and the piece is entitled “Mithra,” which refers to the Persian sun god. Ranjbaran met with conductor Bruno Ferrandis for the pre-concert talk, and shared his process with the audience, as well as discussing the origin of this particular piece. It was a beautiful symphonic effort, with a haunting flute line. Ferrandis and Ranjbaran went to Juilliard together, and they talked about the amazing international world there, where musicians, composers and conductors come together for art, defying all notions of national boundaries.
It was a night of filling the well, pouring some much-needed beauty into my thirsty heart. Sometimes forcing myself to get out is the best medicine, after all.