Thursday, April 22, 2010

Luck of the Irish

In Montreal for a couple of days for work. I knew that Thursday was going to be magical, and it was: while I was still in 3H I had discovered that the incomparable Angela Cheng was going to be opening a Chopin concert series at Jeunesses Musicales Canada today, playing in their tiny concert hall that holds 100 people. Tickets were going for a song - more like a prelude, really - and much to my giddy disbelief, there were still a few available!

Montreal itself has such an unpredictable, rakish charm about it that it was only fitting I should meet a leprechaun at lunch. I have encountered just a couple of leprechauns in recent memory: the first introduced me to Eva Cassidy, and the one today revealed hitherto only suspected dimensions to the Divine Ms. M. Really, Darby O'Gill himself would have been no match for Far-From-Simple Simon ...

And then it was shortly after 7 o'clock and I retrieved my ticket from the will-call pile and got a seat with an excellent view of the Bösendorfer piano keyboard. Ms. Cheng appeared and for the next couple of hours the beautiful little maple-lined salon rang with Chopin - nocturnes, ballades, preludes - and a Haydn encore to "cleanse our ears", as Angela put it. During the intermission I chatted with the charming lady sitting next to me: it turned out that she had a degree in piano performance and she herself participated in a Jeunesses Musicales Canada competition when she was nineteen ("Oh, my dear, so many years ago!"). She plays no longer; but she enjoys coming to these concerts and, like me, looks for music wherever she travels.

By the end of the concert my heart was filled with delight, the ache of the past couple of weeks assuaged. I strolled down La Rue St.-Denis with a light step, peeking into Au festin de Babette and remembering the happy hours my sisters and I had whiled away in its robin's-egg blue, sunlight-drenched shop savouring the cafes aux laits and chocolate croissants and talking about our dreams.

And I realized that Montreal has captured me yet again like no other city does. Do I really have to leave tomorrow?

1 comment:

  1. I love the reference to Darby!!! One of my all-time favorite movies! Who knew Sean Connery was ever that young?!


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