The SymphonyCares for Seniors caravan headed west to Eureka on Thursday afternoon. Violinists Ann Fink and Wendy Plank Rosen, violist Leonid Gotman and cellist Alvin McCall played to an audience at the Timbers of Eureka community center. The quartet performed works by Mozart, J. S. Bach, Scott Joplin and Leroy Anderson. In return they received lots of smiles and applause.
Thursday night is the first On Stage at Powell concert of the season. That’s where you get to sit on stage with the musicians, making for an especially intimate concert experience and an easy concert series to name.
A Symphony string quartet made up of violinists Ann Fink and Helen Kim, violist Chris Tantillo and cellist Bjorn Ranheim play works by Haydn and Samuel Adams. Since Adams is the living composer, and in town, we’re putting him to use. He’ll be on stage to talk about both the Haydn quartet and his own, giving insights into how they relate. Adam Crane will be on hand to interview Adams, and I’ll be bringing around the microphone so audience members can ask questions and share responses.
Thursday, September 24 at 7pm. It’s free. It’s On Stage at Powell.
Some activities aren’t advantageous for carrying a violin. An old fiddle is entirely mobile, which is one reason why it’s central to folk music around the world. But the violins you find in symphony orchestras are much too precious cargo to transport across hollers and bayous and high plains. Symphony violinists take out loans to pay for their instruments, and pay them off over lifetimes like mortgages.
First violinist Ann Fink was hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains recently and sent this postcard pic. Undoubtedly there were a few fiddlers in the vicinity, but the Catawba Falls make their own music–the sounds summer vacations are for. Ann will be back to making her music soon enough.
Next Postcard Thursday: piccolo & flute player Ann Choomack.
On Wednesday morning a patient at SLU Cancer Center received final chemotherapy leading up to his bone-marrow transplant. A patient going through such a procedure is, and this is more than metaphor, being reborn. The old bone marrow dies, new living tissue enters the system. The staff at SLU have developed a small ritual for such an event, a kind of birthday celebration.
The St. Louis Symphony SymphonyCares program has been partnering with SLU Cancer Center for a number of years. Musicians visit its infusion room once a month and perform for patients receiving chemotherapy. After the program got going, patients began to plan their treatments according to the concert schedule.
With the infusion-room concerts being such a success, Maureen Byrne, Director of Community Programs, thought if there was a birthday party going on at the Cancer Center, the Symphony musicians needed to be a part of it as well.
So for the first time, Wednesday morning, musicians from the Symphony played a requested song on the occasion of one patient’s bone-marrow transplant. Principal Harp Allegra Lilly and First Violin Ann Fink performed Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” in an arrangement by composer and Symphony violist Chris Woehr.
“It was a magical experience” Byrne told me afterward. “For all the logistics, all that went into making this happen … the patients, the staff, the musicians, all were stunned when it was over. It was deeply meaningful, and it was personal.”