Saying goodbye to a Steinway Grand by finding the next owner and avoiding the fate of the worst kind….
When we first received the Steinway, it took up a big corner of the house in Bussum. I was afraid it was too close to the fire place. Robert joked, “Well that’s a lot of wood to burn, for a long time.”
As I scout the market for its next owner, I can’t help thinking that once again I am saying goodbye to a friend via cyberspace. I am unable to play it, caress it, or hear it. I am on the other side of the world, answering e-mail enquiries and writing to those who might have a hand in its future.
A friend sent me 4 consecutive e-mails of the following video from the New York Times. He really wanted to make sure I got it, I guess. It’s not a nice way to say goodbye, and I surely hope it will not be the death of mine.
Robert Bekkers, guitarist, prepares his three week solo concert tour of Boston to Phoenix in February.
Five hours before Dutch guitarist Robert Bekkers boards the airplane for his trans-Pacific and coast-to-coast red-eye (overnight) flight from Maui to Boston, he finishes a hearty meal at the cafeteria of Maui College famous for its award-winning Culinary Academy. Every Monday to Thursday between 11 am and 1 pm, Paina Meals at $5 a plate are served. Today he chose the more expensive $7.90 swordfish with purple potato as a send-off meal. He knows that there will be NO complimentary meals served on Hawaiian Airlines and Delta Airlines for the long journey.
An e-mail from the concert host in Wells, Maine brings a reality check:
“As the day draws near, I’m praying for NO MORE SNOW! We’ve had so much with more expected, and I’m concerned about parking. There is just no more room to push the mountains of snow that have accumulated around the driveway.”
That concert of “Guitar meets Piano” will take place on Sunday 13th February, a day of travel for Robert Bekkers on the Boston T-line and the Amtrak. Before then, he will have given two house concerts in Boston. Valentine’s Day on Monday 14th February will be another day of travel, by Amtrak from Wells, Maine to Boston and then the Peter Pan coach to Manhattan.
What he brings to these concert hosts and their guests are three new CDs he produced in Maui: a solo guitar album and two live recordings of his Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo concerts in Maui and at Duke University. He hopes and expects the sale of these CDs to support this 3 week tour of Boston, Wells, Pelham, Houston, and Phoenix.
Dutch guitarist Robert Bekkers races against time to finish producing three CDs for his upcoming solo concert tour of Boston, Wells, Pelham, Houston, and Phoenix.
Dutch classical guitarist Robert Bekkers is preparing three new CDs for his upcoming solo concert tour of Boston, Wells (Maine), Pelham (New York), Houston, and Phoenix. The first two are live recordings of the Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo in concert in Maui (2007) and Durham, North Carolina (2010). The third is a new solo CD still being recorded from the bedroom of the apartment below.
Before the sun appears above the slopes of the volcano Haleakala, he is already awake, preparing coffee and breakfast. He usually reads his music history book while it is still cool in the apartment.
On Saturday 29th January 2011, he turns on his laptop and imports the new photos from the previous evening — a private viewing of a newly commissioned painting Maui-based artist Frances Ku. He crops and re-sizes the image of the unframed watercolor of guitar and piano.
All preparations for this second CD, the live recording of his duo’s concert at Duke University on 2nd November 2010, have been made, except for the artwork.
The 10 tracks from the Duke CD have been uploaded onto CDBABY. The CD itself is being copied in upper Kula, in a house on the path to the crater of Haleakala. All he has to do now is to make the CD cover and send it to the CD presser and at the same time upload the album artwork onto CDBABY.
Meanwhile he is practising his solo repertoire to finish the third CD which contains the one-hour programme he will play on his solo concert tour. After the recording, he will listen to each track, edit, and master them to create a CD.
In the afternoon of Wednesday 27 October 2010, we crossed the border of Western Massachusetts to upstate New York to visit the composer and pianist Daniel Abrams and his wife Sonia. We were too early for the next public concert that Daniel Abrams was giving. But we’re not too late to share it on this blog. The beautiful coloured poster tells it all below.
In the afternoon of Wednesday 27 October 2010, we crossed the border of Western Massachusetts to upstate New York to visit the composer and pianist Daniel Abrams and his wife Sonia. We first met them in Netherlands, where Daniel gave a masterclass at the Utrecht Conservatory in April 2009.
I was so moved by Daniel’s interpretation of the Chaconne on Dido’s Lament that he composed and recorded on his CD “Opera for Piano” that I just had to ask for the score to play it myself. Thus began a journey to understand the composer and his wife who have traveled the world and inspired many people, including the pianist Alan Weiss.
Woodstock is famous for the Woodstock Festival which never took place in Woodstock because it became too big for the town. Except for a short walk in the woods the next morning, we did not have time to look around Woodstock.
We were too early for the next public concert of Daniel Abrams. But we’re not too late to share it on this blog. The beautiful coloured poster tells it all below.
On Saturday 13th November 2010, Robert will be appearing in a fundraising concert in Houston.
The rate at which concerts get booked follows a nonlinear path. It takes a long time before the first concert gets booked. At some point it takes off. Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo visit the USA in mid-October 2010 — this is their story.
In a recent skype conversation with the London-based composer David Harvey, I observed that our concert bookings are speeding up. At first nothing seemed like happening. And now, every other e-mail is landing in good prospects.
David calls it the high school disco model. No one wants to be first on the dance floor. When it gets packed with dancers, everyone wants to squeeze into the little space that’s left.
Call it the herd mentality.
I call it the nonlinear process of concert bookings.
Who is going to arrange the first concert? The second?
At first, we did not know where to start. We obtained our visas in April 2010. We had to validate it by 21st October 2010. We had to pick a destination to book our flights.
Go where we’ve performed before? Houston and Maui.
Go where we’ve not visited before? That’s the rest of the USA.
And the rest of the USA is HUGE!
Start from the East Coast and work our way to the West and then back again?
Book our flights while they are on sale and then get the concerts?
Every time we started to book our flights, we got stopped. Where do we fly to? When do we leave? When do we come back?
Wait and get a concert booked? But where did we want to go?
Our friends in Houston wrote, “Tell us when you’re coming and we’ll get concerts for you.”
Our friends in Phoenix said the same thing.
Other friends in DC area, Florida, North Carolina, …. in fact everyone who knew we were planning a trip to the USA told us that they’d love to see us in concert if we’re in their area.
One of them approached a community music school near her home.
Another wrote a personal email introducing us and sent to all his friends who in turn forwarded to their friends, who forwarded to theirs. Before long, one of the email recipients expressed interest in organising a concert for us in his home.
A week later (still in August) a house concert was booked for 22nd October. As far as I know, there are still seats available in Newton, Massachusetts.
In early September, we were asked to confirm a concert in a big church in Boston. We couldn’t for the 14th of October, for we had a concert to give in Rotterdam on the 15th.
British Airways was having a sale. We could fly from Amsterdam to San Francisco and back for less than 500 euros. But we still could not book our flights until we had a peace of mind about the Monument House. [This will be another blog about how we managed to get a peace of mind.]
We have a week to go before we embark on this concert tour of the USA. We call it the scenic route from Boston to Maui.
We will experience Autumn in New England in a dry climate that is so different from windy (wet) Netherlands. [One Dutch postdoc researcher said that you really get to see the leaves change colour over a period of time rather than a sudden change as in the Netherlands.]
We will end our New England adventure in New York for a brief glimpse of the Big Apple before flying to North Carolina for a short visit. [New York deserves a separate, long visit.] At Duke University, we will be playing in the concert hall where I gave my senior recital. We will just miss our friends from Singapore who land in Raleigh/Durham Airport an hour after we take off for Phoenix.
In Phoenix, we will be playing at two community colleges and also a new Salon series. We will see a friend I’ve not seen since high school. We will miss the Grand Canyon on this first trip to Phoenix and fly to Houston for a private concert on the 6th of November.
Right now we’re arranging concerts for Houston & the vicinity and San Francisco & the vicinity. We’ll have to book our flights for Houston – SFO and get to Maui for Thanksgiving. We will see old friends and new friends we’ve not yet met.