Blog 14 September 2016
New York connection
Two great friends we have met in Lucca over the past few years are Arnold and Kate but, when in Lucca ‘Arnoldo and Katerina’. They are regular visitors to Lucca each year during May and June from New York and are now well known in Lucca at their favourite shops, bars and restaurants and even at the lovely and restful Bagna Daisy in Marina di Pietrasanta.
One of our shared interests are the concerts of OperaLuccaFestival held in the Oratorio dei Angeli Custodi in the street of the same name. Indeed, music is Arnold’s great passion and is a highly skilled pianist having collaborated for many years with the great Polish American classical pianist Arthur Rubinstein whom many regard as the greatest interpreter of Chopin of his time. One of his favourite pastimes here in Lucca is obtaining keys to the Oratorio (le chiave di paradiso) to play and practice on the piano, learn new pieces and often entertain casual passers-by to a free musical interlude
My original portrait of Arnold at the piano in the Oratorio with Lorenzo Satti looking on Lucca
Kate is a wonderful sculptor who has for many years worked at her studio in New York in various mediums of stone, plaster, bronze, clay and paper. Whilst in Lucca she often makes beautiful collages in card and paper to give as gifts.
Our connection with New York strengthened when Jan and I, together with Michelle and Mattia from Lucca, surprised Arnold (with Kate’s help) by turning up on his doorstep unannounced for his 80th birthday. We spent five lovely days at their home in Larchmont, Westchester County just north of New York whilst Mattia and Michelle stayed in Kate and Arnold’s beautiful apartment in Manhattan just off Central Park.
One highlight of the trip was his official birthday party held in a restaurant just off Madison Avenue where Michelle and Mattia sang arias from Puccini’s operas and well-known Broadway performers both old and new played jazz on clarinet, saxophone and piano. An emotional Arnold vowed they will returning to Lucca next year to say thank you to all the friends that signed photographs of themselves that were collected and placed in an album together with sheet music from the Puccini museum for piano and voice of O mio Babbino Caro and O soave Fanciulla.
Arnold has promised to add these to his repertoire and will perform them in Lucca next Spring, date to be arranged. Watch this space!