Torino, Italy


Dear Readers,

I’m all kinds of sore right now! My recital in Torino has just ended, and I’m in an echo chamber of a dressing room, feeling the effects of a tilted stage. That’s pretty common in Italy: a stage so angled that a marble would roll quickly into the audience if placed on the ground. The piano has to be locked to prevent it from doing the same. For me, playing violin on an uneven surface is as comfortable as playing tennis with one shoe on, or arm-wrestling while wearing a tourniquet. One foot is slightly higher than the other, my back is off center, and what’s normally asymmetrical in one way becomes reversed and even more contorted with an inclined floor. It affects strange parts of the body: the back of my left hand, my upper legs, the entire middle of my back, all the muscles around my left shoulder socket, the left side of my neck, a small muscle near the inside of my left elbow, my right lateral area, and the back of my right arm leading towards my shoulder blade. I’m sure there’s a logical reason for each one of those, but all I know at the moment is that my body feels strange.

Pretty soon, we’ll be moving on to Milan – where I think the stage is flat. There, like here, we’ll play in the Conservatorio Verdi. Conservatorio Verdi is not a franchise; Verdi is a popular figure in Italy and well-respected in musical historical circles. This afternoon, in fitting with the institution which hosted the recital, the audience reminded me of the crowd at my alma mater during a student concert: dedicated, informed, excited, and supportive. We only lost one audience member during the Ives: a woman got up after the first movement and disappeared out the back of the hall. It could have been a bathroom emergency, or maybe once she started listening to the Ives – which is a beautiful piece – she concluded she’d rather be home eating a nice leisurely dinner. Someone else dropped a program during that same piece. I take program-dropping as a compliment, because every time I’ve been the culprit, it’s been because I was so engrossed in the performance I was hearing that I forgot I was holding anything. Today’s program lay in the aisle till the end of the Ives.

The concertgoers were a good mix of young and older. We’ve never seen so many mink coats at once; it seemed the entire front row was lined with them. There were also some whoops between pieces, which I think came from the conservatory contingent.

Our cab is here, so we must push off. Off with the computer, off (in a little while) to Milan.

Yours from Torino,

Hilary