Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Last Full Day at La Sainte-Baume (Hear a new friend play some jazz)

Today was my last full day at La Sainte-Baume. As I said, I have developed a daily routine that has been very relaxing and rewarding. After a very nice birthday yesterday, with all I reported in yesterday's blog, today brought more good things even as I am preparing to leave. This morning was spent reading and doing some preliminary packing, answering birthday e-mails from people who sent them last evening. (Remenber, if you sent them after 6PM EST, I was already in bed. I got them this morning.)

At Mass today, Frere Romeric, the Prior, said he had read much of the blog. He made two comments. He was intruiged by my observations of La Sainte-Baume. There has never been an ongoing commentary of the life and events here. He though they were fascinating. He was glad to be able to read them and grateful for my insights. He also asked to clarify one thing I had written a while back. (This tells me he really did a thorough reading) He told me that the reason they refer to each other as frere, (brother) and not pere, (father) is not just because all are not pere, but because years ago the tradition began in France to call all the priests and brothers of the Domincan Order, frere.  Merci, frere, pour la clarification. Second, he said, "Vous ecrivez tres bien en Anglais."  (No translation this time. Jokes don't translate very well.)

Also, Frere Thomas has been on the blog to look up my translations of the Novena which he authored. He told me that he had saved it and printed it up. They will be using it on the California tour of the relics of St. Marie-Magdelene. That was a bonus they had not thought of doing when the trip was planned. So my wanting to share this with St. John Neumann Parish and friends has turned into a greater blessing. I am pleased with that and grateful to Frere Thomas for permission to translate and publish his work; and I am pleased that my work will have benefit elsewhere in the USA. He asked again about translating the entire book. I will begin work on that soon.

At lunch today, I got to speak to another pilgrim here at the hotelerie; yet another member of the French Foreign Legion. This time, Guilhem, (which I later learned is an early middle-ages version of Guillaume, the modern French rendering of William), is an officer-in-training with the Legion. He has completed his university degree and is in the last year of a three-year officer's formation program. He is the 5th young military man that I met here. He was at table when Gabrielle, who had been here a couple of weeks ago, asked about the coming music festival. Guillhem told me afterwards that he plays the piano. I was about to go to give Sr. Natalia another piano lesson. He asked about coming over to the hall where the piano is. After the lesson with Sr. Natalia, I practiced for a while and Guilhem arrived. We sat and played some sections of the Mozart piano sonatas for 4 hands. He sight read them quite well. It's great fun to play them again. Its been a while since I played them with a live person. I have a CD with the second piano part that I play with, but its not like the real thing where sometimes the two players' hands have to cross over each other in places. I'm sure Mozart did it on purpose to help pianists have fun.

After the Mozart he mentioned that his favorite piano piece is Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune". Imagine that! I was happy to play my signature piece for him. Then I turned the keyboard over to him. He started in with some really nice jazz rips. The nervousness of sigthreading Mozart gave way to a relaxed style of playing of which I was envious. Jazz improvisation is not my training and I am always amazed at people who can do that. (Maybe for my next sabbatical). Anyway, I took out my camera, turned on the video function, and recorded a few minutes of his playing. He gave me permission to post it.

Click on the link below to access it.

It was about 3 hours at the piano today. I went back to my room to write a little bit, then answered the bells for Vespers and Adoration. After dinner, I came up to my room to download the video, do a bit more packing, and write my post for today.

And now it's midnight.

Bonne Nuit All

 Guilhem Playing Jazz