|Robert Holliston, Gwen Thompson and Paula Kiffner in recital,|
Alex Goolden Performance Hall, 16 October 2015
Rain streaks the windscreen of the Chevy Cavalier as we make our way from Victoria to Nanaimo, en route to Vancouver for the next part of our journey. The violin is snug in the back seat between my suitcase and I. My partner and his mother chat in the front seats. The forests are misty swathes of blue-green and grey peppered with bursts of copper and gold.
Art is the path of a lifetime, it doesn’t happen overnight.
Whether or not we are artists, we are creative beings. We are telling the stories of our lives and finding meaning in the mundane and sublime. It delights me that the audience for Paganini’s Shadow this past Saturday night included children as young as age seven, and the elderly. Nine-year-old George was overheard begging his mother to be allowed to stay for the second half of the show, past his bedtime.
The arts should be inclusive, accessible and universal. The myth of exclusivity, so prevalent in perceptions of western classical music, serves only to restrict and confine, not nurture. The penguin suit is just another costume for the traveling minstrel – Le Bateleur, in the Marseille Tarot. When we recognize true creativity in a performance on the stage before us, the spirit within us responds and expands to meet it.
What started out as a solo show (Paganini’s Shadow) presented alongside an independent work of puppetry by Tim Gosley (exploring the life of poet Robin Skelton), evolved through the rehearsal process to adapt to present conditions and resources. We found unexpected resonance between the cards of the tarot and the alphabet cards created by Tim for his performance. We discovered an ability to tell a story through music, words and images, in a way that altered our expectations of what each element could do.
|Tim Gosley in rehearsal last week in Fairfield, Victoria|
At the Q&A following Paganini’s Shadow, someone asked me what it had been like turning pages for Robert Holliston’s 60th birthday celebration concert on Sunday October 16th, at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. Powerhouse violinist Gwen Thompson and celebrated soprano Nancy Argenta were among the artists sharing the stage that afternoon. I replied that it was like being swept up in a vortex of creative energy. I recalled that pianist Tzenka Dianova had said, “You were so good, I didn’t know you were there.”
As a page-turner, you contribute by doing as little as possible, at just the right moment. You do this by tuning in, listening deeply, and aligning your energy with what’s going on. You become the music. As Pacific Opera Victoria’s General Manager Patrick Corrigan told me last night (after a few Scotches) at the closing party for Otello, creativity – the path of the artist – is a lifelong path. There is no listener and no performer. We are all travelers in the stream of love.