Blog from Ann Arbor

October 17 2016

Some time before in my vlog I showed you Hill Auditorium from the stage and told you some interesting facts about this concert hall. And now, while I am waiting for my flight to Denver, I’d like to share my impressions after concert in Ann Arbor. Hill Auditorium is a legendary concert hall. With unique ambiance. There are only three or four concert halls in America, that have their unique ambiance. I can name Carnegie Hall, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco. And even among those famous halls Hill Auditorium stands out. Thanks to its audience, which come to concerts of Choral Union Series every year.

This audience amazes me every time. I’ve told you many times, how important first several moments on the stage right before a concert for me. This is when I “breathe in” audience’s energy and mood to see what kind of people are in this hall today. And 4000-people audience of Hill Auditorium is one of the brightest examples of that “understanding” audience, that very musician dreams about. The American audience, brought up on legendary concerts. Absolute understanding.

When I am talking about an audience, that understands everything from the first note, I usually mean not big audience, not 4000 people. But yesterday understanding silence reigned in Hill Auditorium from the first note of Beethoven’s 31st Sonata. And it was stunning impression for me!

I’d like to say a couple of words about UMS President Ken Fischer, who has lead Choral Union Series for 29 years. Ken said, that my 5 concerts in this series in 6 years are something of a record and it did not happen during 29 years. Unfortunately, Ken will step down at the end of this season. It was a great pleasure for me to talk to him and we are going to keep in touch in future. He promised to come to my festival in Irkutsk and dive into the lake Baikal.

I attached the link to UMS archives to this post. Here you can find all performers and composers, who came to Hill Auditorium to give a concert in this legendary series. Not only they wrote down every program, but also encores of every performer. Which is really amazing!

I found out, that Horowitz once played Rachmaninoff’s Second Sonata’s finale, and Rachmaninoff, who took part in this series for 9 times, played Beethoven’s 32nd Sonata, Islamey by Balakirev and Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, which I also performed yesterday. It is absolutely amazing. I even did not know that Rachmaninoff performed these three musical works on the stage. And that is why I feel so sorry, that Rachmaninoff did not allow to record his American concerts. His interpretation was genius I am sure. Unfortunately there are also no video records of him. I know this, because I asked Alexander Borisovich, Rachmaninoff’s grandson about it.

Do you remember I told you once about meeting with a man who was at Rachmaninoff’s concert, when he played piano with Philadelphia orchestra under baton of Ormandy? And he said that what had struck him first was that Rachmaninoff, who was tall and with big hands, did not have to lean forward to adjust the artist bench. And of course he remembered that Rachmaninoff’s grand piano sounded like a human voice. I think everybody will find something interesting about his or her favorite performer or composer in this archive.

And one more thing! Just before the departure I got a present from Ken – a book titled “Bravo”. And you won’t believe what is inside this book! Thoroughly gathered records about what performers in Hill Auditorium preferred for dinner after their concerts and their favorite recipes. Great idea, if you ask me! So I am going to cite this book to you from time to time. And you will find out what Rachmaninoff, Horowitz, Stravinsky, Mehta and Bernstein preferred to eat. Zubin Mehta, for example, ordered Pozharskaya cutlet and chicken cutlet Kiev-style, which he also tried, when he was in Irkutsk at my festival “Stars on the lake Baikal”.

And my tour is going on, so let’s keep in touch!

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