Last night was perfect. And then this happened...
You know that moment when the stars align, when everything around us conspires to remind us that life can be spontaneously, simply...delightful.
It was Gallery Night, which happens every third Thursday; the galleries in Providence and all over Rhode Island stay open late. It's an evening celebrating commitment to nourishing and stirring the already-fertile soil of the arts community; a time when art-o-philes like myself can wander through countless venues catching up with friends and acquaintances, encountering new work and new artists with my characteristic "Oooohhh! How did you do that...?"; opening the door to conversations about techniques and materials which almost invariably wander into longer conversations about art-history, inspiration and philosophy. I love Gallery Night!
I was wandering with Todd, my favorite art-partner-in-crime and Leslie Grant - RISD trained artist, designer, art-educator and one of the most genuine, soulful and amazing women I have ever met - through the Art League Rhode Island gallery at The Vet's.
I don't think the Art League gallery was actually open last night. But after a visit to the RISCA Atrium Gallery to meet friends at the Latin American exhibition, we headed over to The Vets. We went there specifically to get a look at the current exhibition entitled "Beyond Choreography" whose invitation had caught my eye a few days before.
The theatre was closed and the front doors were locked, so we were looking for the gallery-only entrance when we happened across someone who was coming out of one of the side doors. She told us she wasn't sure about the gallery; she was there because the Rhode Island Philharmonic was rehearsing for this weekend's performances. But she held the door for us anyway, and that's how we happened to be there.
The three of us wandered through the empty gallery, exploring separately, re-grouping to proclaim our favorites, pointing out ideas, themes, artists we know, and artists whose work was new to us, all to the strains of the orchestra tuning up which we could hear through an open door into the theatre. Once, as our meandering brought us together I turned to Leslie and exclaimed, "Wow! I am absolutely living my perfect life!"
Almost as the words left my lips, Francisco Noya, Resident Conductor of RIPO, walked through the gallery and stopped to chat with us. When I described my thoughts about the moment being a perfect synthesis of visual art with music, he agreed and recounted for us the story of mutual inspiration between Vasily Kandinsky and Arnold Schoenberg - the kind of information that always makes art come alive for me. (Mr. Noya presents pre-concert talks and conducts education concerts for RIPO and has joined my bucket-list of 'people I'd love to have dinner & conversation with'.) Then he invited us to come into the theatre and listen to the orchestra when we had finished looking at the exhibition.
Such a gracious offer cannot be refused, so we stepped onto the first balcony where, just as the orchestra began to play, Mr. Noya again invited us to sit wherever we liked. We assumed scattered seats thinking perhaps to watch a rehearsal with intermittent pauses for direction by Larry Rachleff, Music Director of RIPO. Watching Mr. Rachleff is a treat in itself, whether he is speaking his thoughts about music or conducting; both are filled with his erudition and passion.
To our amazement and joy, we sat for the next hour and listened to a complete run-through, without interruption, of Beethoven's "Piano Concerto No. 5" with Garrick Ohlsson's sublime piano playing.
Have I mentioned that the "Emperor" piano concerto is one of my two favorite pieces by Beethoven - one that I can never listen to without crying? Or that I have never before seen it performed live? Or that it's a piece with deepest significance in the history of my lover-best-friend-partnership with Todd?
As the opening strains of the second movement - the "adagio un poco mosso" - began, I looked across to where Todd was sitting, a few rows away. He was looking back at me, mirroring my expression; a moment of deep communion with tears in our eyes.
It was simply magnificent! When they finished the three of us danced out into the night exclaiming in delight and gratitude....
Thank you, thank you, thank you Francisco Noya, Larry Rachleff, Garrick Ohlsson and the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra! No matter how long I live and what other adventures come my way, last night will always be one of my favorite memories!
Collette is a traveler, writer, style and retail business consultant. After twenty-five years in the designer fashion industry, working for Donna Karan, Giorgio Armani, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, she took a sabbatical and wandered away into the wide world to find adventure, to explore, meditate and learn. For a year she traveled alone; a container ship ride across the Pacific Ocean to Taiwan, China and Hong Kong; ferries and trains, busses and planes across Southeast Asia and Australia; eight days sitting in silence at the feet of Mooji; advaita Vedantist spiritual teacher; living and traveling for two months in Spain while studying Spanish -- which she hopes someday to master.
Returning to the US, Collette settled in Providence where, attracted by the beauty of the city, the miles of Rhode Island coastline and the crazy art vibe, she hopes to contribute to what she believes is a developing urban renaissance. In addition to 'finding her cool', she is currently gathering new stories from life and the art around her and working on a full length book about her journey.