Monday, 2 May 2016

Four great milestones

Four great milestones.

Birmingham, Amsterdam, Geneva, Berlin. Four different projects in quick succession. Each a significant milestone that made me pause, look back thankfully and marvel at inspiring friendships - and at the closing of some great chapters in my life. 
In Birmingham Andrew Jowett retired as Director of Symphony Hall, where he commissioned thirty-two of my paintings. On stage for the unveiling of my painting of Andrew, as described in my previous blog.

Back in  Amsterdam I shared the Dutch TV music programme Podium Witteman with Lis Perry and Liviu Prunaru, both former students of Yehudi Menuhin and now concertmasters of great orchestras, to speak of our friendship with this wonderful man, then join in an audio-visual extract from Bach's Double Violin Concerto. Here's the link - it's in Dutch.
Norman Perryman & Lis Perry celebrate Yehudi Menuhin at 100.
Then it was quite nostalgic to re-visit Geneva, where I lived, exhibited, taught art, set up the Visual Arts programme of the International Baccalaureate, collaborated with left-wing journalist friends in NGO activities in the 1970's and made film around my kinetic painting with music for Télévision Suisse Romande in 1976. Wow, a significant period of my life.

Now, forty years later, I'm invited by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), an agency of the United Nations, to put on a performance of kinetic painting at a major conference in their beautiful new hall. How fulfilling. But was it a little bit of the devil in me to propose l'Histoire du Soldat (composed by Stravinsky on the Lake of Geneva in 1918)? How appropriate for this city of wealth and power, the story of how the soldier sold his violin (his soul) to the Devil, in exchange for a book that "tells you things before they happen" and provides "wealth untold"! Alas, the soldier become millionaire realizes that after all, in reality he has nothing. Terribly familiar? It was great to share the stage with the Ludwig Ensemble, but especially with my son Chris King Perryman, playing the Narrator. His mother Vivian King, whom I met in Geneva in 1974 when she was studying with the cellist Pierre Fournier, would have been so proud.

From Geneva I flew straight to Berlin, for a performance with Daniel Hope and Sebastian Knauer, one of the wonderful series in honour of our dear Yehudi Menuhin, who would have been 100 on April 22nd. There I met many old friends and his daughter Zamira, with whom I was able to share memories of my friendship with Yehudi, illustrated in my memoir "A Life Painting Music". Two of my paintings of him were illustrated in the Konzerthaus Festschrift.

The banner on the facade of Konzerthaus Berlin announces "Music heals, brings comfort and joy". That's what Yehudi lived for. What joy he and Daniel brought to me as I shared in this great festival! Our performance to a packed hall and discussion with audience was received with enormous enthusiasm - they just wouldn't let us go! Warmest thanks to the whole production team. The concert was recorded for television by Deutsche Welle and hopefully will be screened later this month.
Konzerthaus Berlin
Rehearsing with Daniel and Sebastian in the Kleine Saal.