Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Monday, January 25, 2016
Dedicated with love to my mother, Pnina Katsenelenbogen
For the first time in my life I sensed the healing power of music. Playing for my mother was a spiritual experience. It wasn’t sad. I played for her songs like “Tea for Two” and “Cheek to Cheek”, and many Israeli songs that she has always loved. My friend Rafi gave me a small pocketbook, and I listed in it every day the songs that I would play for her the following one. One day I was playing for her “The Eucalyptus Grove” - one of the most well-known Israeli songs by Neomi Shemer. It starts with the words “When mother came here, beautiful and young, then father built her a house on a hill”. As I was playing, my father approached her and gave my mother a gentle kiss. They got married on February 12, 1946 in Metzudat Ze'ev on 38 King George Street in Tel Aviv, and were married for seventy years, eight months and twenty days. He told me that she was fourteen when he saw her for the first time, and that he knew then and there that they will spend their life together.
When I was three or four years old, my mother took me to the kindergarten for the first time. I did not want to go and they had to drag me inside holding me up in the air by my arms and feet. Fifty years later, music allowed me to take my mother by her hand to heaven, and like she left me in that kindergarten, I left her in heaven and came back to earth.
She waited patiently in her bed until I arrived from the U.S. She stayed conscious throughout the week to listen to my music. I got to decide what will be the last piece of music I will play for her, and got to play that final note. I did not want to end with a particular song and somberly remember that song as our last one, so instead I improvised a new song which I made up on the spot. I only remember that I liked it very much and was so pleased with it. I think it was in f minor.
On Thursday I played for my mother. Then I kissed her on her forehead and said “Mommy, I’m going”. A couple hours later she was already running a very high fever. On Friday I flew back to the U.S. I arrived around ten at night and went to sleep. On Saturday morning I went to the conservatory to teach. At two thirty in the afternoon, while I was in the middle of a piano lesson, she passed on. I did not stop teaching. The last student for the day brought “How Insensitive” by Jobim to work on throughout our lesson. In my last concert in Israel during the summer of 2014 my parents were in the audience, sitting at the first row of the balcony. I played “How Insensitive” at that concert and dedicated it to them. I couldn’t have been happier to finish that teaching day singing the melody of this beautiful song while my student was practicing the chords. I also have recorded it in June of 2014 for my next album.
I dedicated my Jazz and Classical Highlights 2015 solo tour of China to my mother. The tour started on November 12, 2015 with a flight from Boston to Beijing with a connection in Detroit. In Beijing, I met Jason who would accompany me for the duration on the tour. Together we boarded a flight from Beijing to Lanzhu. The trip from Boston to Lanzhu took about thirty hours, and I did the same trip in reverse twenty six days later when I came back to the U.S. after the end of the tour, on Dec. 7.
Jazz and Classical Highlights 2015 solo tour itinerary:
Nov. 14: Concert 1 in Lanzhou at the Jincheng Grand Theater
Nov. 19: Concert 2 in Fuling at the Fuling Grand Theater
Nov. 20: Concert 3 in Chongqing at the Cathay Pacific Arts Center Concert Hall
Nov. 21: Concert 4 in Xiamen at the Hong Tai Center in Xiamen
Nov. 22: Concert 5 in Jiaxing at the Jiaxing Grand Theater
Nov. 24: Concert 6 in Yichun at the Yichun Culture and Art Center Grand Theatre
Nov. 26: Concert 7 in Xuzhou at the Xuzhou Concert Hall
Nov. 27: Concert 8 in Dezhou at the Dezhou Grand Theatre
Nov. 28: Concert 9 in Wuhu at the Wuhu Grand Theatre
Nov. 29: Concert 10 in Yangzhou at the Yangzhou Concert Hall
Dec. 2: Concert 11 in Foshan at the Foshan Golden Horse Theatre
Dec. 3: Concert 12 in Wuhan at the Wuhan Traditional Opera Hall
Dec. 4: Concert 13 in Nanchang at the Qingshanhu Jiangxi Arts Center Concert Hall
Dec. 5: Concert 14 in Hangzhou at the Hangzhou Theatre
Dec. 6: Concert 15 in Guangzhou at the Guangzhou Opera House
This tour has been immensely inspiring for me. It was not easy. As a self-confessed lazy person whose prime artistic mastery is the art of procrastination, I usually associate easy with good and difficult with bad. This tour was hard and wonderful! Physically, I was still in recovery from a herniated disc injury that affected my feet, and I was very limited in walking. It was worsened by the recent traveling to be with my mother. Throughout the tour in China, I used the left foot for pedaling during rehearsal time, and “kept” the right foot only for the concerts. On top of that, I had Sinusitis and Bronchitis throughout almost all of the tour. But these challenges only made me more adamant about performing well, and made me more focused on completing it successfully. In retrospect, they only made me play better.
On the emotional side, the tour started less than two weeks before my beloved mother passed away. But again, while this may sound like a challenging obstacle, there was nothing better for me to do than to play these concerts with her in my mind. On Tuesday, November 24, I woke up at ten minutes past 2 am. While I was sleeping in my room at the Dehe Hotel in Yichun, my mother came to me in my dream in the most realistic way. I felt her presence in the room truly as if we were meeting again. We hugged a wonderful long hug of pure love. There is no love like a mother’s love and no hug is like a mother’s hug! I can still feel it in my chest since that night.
Like it was during my tour in 2014 with my friend, pianist and composer Tal Zilber, I was deeply impressed with the level of planning and organization of the Jazz and Classical Highlights 2015 solo tour. The venues were absolutely wonderful, and the pianos were simply great. China is a pianists’ heaven: it offers the opportunity to engage with wonderful audiences, including many children, in optimal performance settings. I would like to express my gratitude to the many people who came to my concerts and to those who brought their children with them. It was a true pleasure to play for them and to meet many of the audience members following each concert. And I am most grateful for my friends and colleagues Lewis, who conceived and planned the tour and Jason, who accompanied me throughout it and made sure that it ran smoothly. Their careful planning and meticulous organization helped me perform at me very best.
Some Fridays I light a candle for my mother. It makes me feel her presence looking after and protecting me. I believe that the love she gave me would last for a lifetime.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Because of Adam, I choose to be glad for what I've gained, not sad for what I've lost. I have gained the friendship of a young bright student who shared with me a philosophy of life. Adam always had the look in his eyes of wanting to learn more. He had a strong spine, knew what he wanted to learn and how to achieve it. He was one of my all time favorite students, because he cared about others - one of the students I was sure will have a promising future, someone who would give so much to the world, and would help many people. He was intelligent, passionate and compassionate, and he was funny - we laughed a lot together about how funny this world can be; we jammed together on the piano, and had the best time together.
And that is why I can’t just be sad now: Adam gave me hope. He filled my life, made me feel like my work had great value - he helped me feel fulfilled.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
|Photography and design by Vincere Sylph|
I woke up at 3:30 am on the date of our flight. For the last few days, I have been preparing for our trip to
Shortly after 12 noon we had a very delicious lunch at the hotel’s restaurant with Helen, who would accompany us on this tour. The Wonton was fabulous, and I took the remaining pieces to my room. After lunch, we were driven to the
I was deeply moved by the great effort made by every individual person who helped us on this day at the
|Eyran during rehearsal at the |
|Tal during rehearsal at the |
|Tal and Eyran during rehearsal at the |
From the hotel in
The audience was very warm, and clapped with our music on several pieces. Again, it was wonderful to meet some of the people who came to the concert and to see so many children, including some who play the piano.
I realize two things early on this tour: one is that we all have our roll, and mine is to play the piano. The other thing is that you have to be patient and flexible because much of the time you need to be coordinated with others so that everything goes smoothly.
Tomorrow we check out of the hotel at 9 am and go by car to the next city, were we will have another concert in the evening.
|Tal and Eyran outside the Hai Tian Grand Theatre Hotel|
|Piano Fight concert sign outside the Hai Tian Grand Theatre Hotel|
|Eyran during rehearsal at the Hai Tian Grand Theatre Hotel|
|Tal during rehearsal at the Hai Tian Grand Theatre Hotel|
|Window view from hotel room at the Hai Tian Grand Theatre Hotel|
|Caramelized sweet potatoes and cooked eggplant|
Again, professionalism and friendliness all around! The concert went very well. I loved having so many children in the audience, and we took pictures with many of them at the greeting table following the concert.
Also, the Weifang International Financial Hotel deserves compliments. I loved my room, because it really felt like a bedroom at home. There were things in the room which made me feel comfortable, like this little plastic cup with a stapler, scissors, glue and ruler. And the restaurant connected to the lobby had wonderful food. My favorite was a slightly sweet bread pocket coated with sesame seeds filled with pieces of beef, chopped sweet carrots and peas. So delicious!!!
|Eyran during rehearsal at Weifang Culture and |
|Tal during rehearsal at Weifang Culture and |
|Weifang Culture and |
|Concert hall with piano at Weifang Culture and |
|Eyran and Tal at the greeting table at Weifang Culture and |
|Eyran and Tal by the Piano Fight concert poster at Weifang Culture and |
|Concert hall at Weifang Culture and |
From Weifang we were driven back to the
Our performance took place the following day at the Taiyuan Poly Great Theatre. It is another grand concert hall which is located inside an enormous ultra modern complex. At evening time, the sights from of its housing complex and the illuminated city beyond the river were an awe-inspiring futuristic vision. In this concert, people were also seating around the hall, on high balconies overlooking the stage, and we had to bow in four directions. The piano was a marvelous Steinway D with a singing ringing voice.
The audience was very warm and demanded encores. I enjoyed waving back to the smiling children who were sitting in the front rows. Also, the flower bouquets that were handed to us at the end of the concert were especially beautiful and had such a wonderful scent. I wish I could take back home with me the beautiful flower bouquets we have been receiving after each concert…
|Tall during rehearsal at at Taiyuan Poly Great Theatre|
|Eyran during rehearsal at at Taiyuan Poly Great Theatre|
|Signed programs after the concert at at Taiyuan Poly Great Theatre|
|Helen, Dongpo, Eyran and Tal at Guo Guo Mutton restaurant in Taiyuan|
|Guo Guo Mutton restaurant in Taiyuan|
|A walk in the park by the river, near the Binhe Hotel in |
|At the food boardwalk in |
The last few days were very hectic with traveling and performing, so I’m catching up now and trying to see if I can remember the order of things since the last time I wrote. We are now on the train from
We have now entered the third hour of our train ride to
|Tal outside the |
|Eyran during rehearsal at |
|Tal during rehearsal at |
|Tal during rehearsal at |
|Eyran outside |
|Relaxing in the dressing room before the concert at |
|Wuhan Qin Tai Grand Theatre|
|Tal during rehearsal at Wuhan Qin Tai Grand Theatre|
|Tal during rehearsal at Wuhan Qin Tai Grand Theatre|
|Eyran during rehearsal at Wuhan Qin Tai Grand Theatre|
|Bosendorfer piano with extra set of keys|
|Eyran during rehearsal at Wuhan Qin Tai Grand Theatre|
|Fried tofu dish|
|Menu in a restaurant in Wuhan|
After arriving from
|Tal at the Chinese Wall|
|Rapper Rani at the Chinese Wall|
|Climbing the Chinese Wall|
|Still climbing...|Tal and Eyran at the end of their climb After reaching the top, Eyran is getting ready to work Tal at an introspective moment of triumph
The marble boat at the Summer Palace in Beijing
Before crossing the
The genie is finally out of the bottle!
Yesterday Tal and I practiced during the day. We had lunch at the mall and dinner at the hotel. In the evening we went to the lake. There were many people dancing together at a concourse by its side, under the weeping-willow trees. It was the nicest sight and the evening weather was just perfect.
Today we are planning to practice more at the piano store and to visit Lewis’ offices. In the evening, I hope to meet with Jessie, who studies with me in
And a word of advice about crossing the road in the center of
|Tal meets an elephant at the park in Shijiazhuang|
|Eyran at the mall in Shijiazhuang|
|Tal at the mall in Shijiazhuang|
|Eyran at the park in Shijiazhuang|
|Fluffy airy ice covered with sweet beans and topped with pinapple|
|Piano at the piano store in Shijiazhuang|
|Tal on the train from |
|Eyran during rehearsal at the Xuzhou Concert Hall|
|Tal during rehearsal at Xuzhou Concert Hall|
|Xuzhou Concert Hall|
|Eyran and Tal arriving at the Xuzhou Concert Hall|
We arrived at the hotel at around 1:30 pm and met with JQ Wang from The Hong Tai Center in
The final concert of our Piano Fight tour took place at the concert hall of The Hong Tai Center in
Following the concert, people waited for an hour in line to meet with us and take photos together. I was humbled and full of appreciation for the opportunity to interact in such a friendly way with many of the people who came to this last concert on our tour. At the end of the concert, we were so pleased to meet Linda Sun, the Deputy Gereral Manager of Kingtronics Group. Ms. Sun greeted us with wonderful warmth and it was such a pleasure to receive her compliments following the concert.
|Eyran and young pianist during master class at The Hong Tai Center in |
|Helen, Eyran and young pianist during the master class at The Hong Tai Center in |
|Eyran and young pianist during the masterclass at The Hong Tai Center in |
|Tal and Eyran with two young pianists and a parent following the master class at the The Hong Tai Center in |
|Young pianist with Eyran and Tal following the master class at The Hong Tai Center in |
|Billboard with imagery created by Vincere Sylph in the concert hall of The Hong Tai Center in |
|Tal and Eyran during rehearsal at The Hong Tai Center in |
|Backstage at The Hong Tai Center in |
|Tal, Eyran and JQ Wang|
|Eyran, Helen and Tal before saying goodbye at the airport in Beijing|
|Concert flowers for Helen at the airport in Beijing|