Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Loving Batch

Recently at a Seattle Chamber Music Society concert that was quickly filling with general seating at a formerly-a-church venue, a middle-aged man stopped at the second row where I was sitting on the aisle to scan availability. Quickly the woman sitting next to me and I scooted apart to make room for him in our pew. Soon the lights dimmed and we became immersed in the spectacular performance of the Isidore Quartet, winner of the 2022  Banff String Quartet Competition.

At intermission my seatmate and I began to chat, each of us sharing how much we had loved the genre of chamber music from an early age. My passion began in eighth grade when I first heard Dvorak's Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81, recorded by Pablo Casals and friends at his festival in Prades. Not only did I love the work itself, but Pablo Casals could be heard singing along as he played during much of the recording. Something about his irrepressible urge to sing during such spectacular ensemble work transported me to an emotional place I'd never been. From that point forward and ever after, chamber music totally eclipsed other forms of music. 

But the man next to me had an even better anecdote about his love for chamber music--one of the dearest I've heard. His mother loved classical music and played LPs as background in their home during his pre-school years. She bought an album of Bach's Trio Sonatas when he was in first grade and did her housework while listening. When he heard that particular album he was mesmerized and, as a beginner at reading, inspected the album cover closely. He was learning how to sound out words he didn't know. He then sought out his mother to proudly announce, "I love Batch." 

As we parted ways after a standing ovation for Isadore, the man thanked me for making room for him where he could see and hear so well. He introduced himself by his first name, Sean. It's unlikely I will ever see him again, but his story will linger forever. An appropriate punchline might be, "Thank you, Seen."

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