Just got in from a very enjoyable little concert. A couple of singer friends with whom I did a recital in Austria last year asked me if I'd play for them in a little concert in a Yoga and Wellbeing centre just outside Toulouse. Hey, why not. The manageress is a friend and they exchange quite a few goods and services; the tenor is also a very good painter and exhibits his works on their premises etc. Playing the piano in a low-ceilinged, carpeted room is no big deal, but for singers it's like extracting your larynx with a rusty spoon. They sang wonderfully, though, taking care not to expect any acoustic return on their voices. The audience loved it, so we gave them a couple of encores. The whole thing was finished off with biscuits and fruit juice. It was a yoga + wellbeing centre after all...I was hoping there was going to be at least a glass of red, but there were Cadbury's Fingers, so all was not lost. We've got another one tomorrow night in the centre of Toulouse. It's an evening based on water: the songs we're performing all have water running through them and are punctuated by poetry readings and snippets of contemporary dance. I'll keep in the spirit and character of the evening by using these breaks to go and have a slash. It promises to be quite interesting, even if it's the type of event you usually stop doing after you turn 35. Apparently, in the interval the organiser would like the performers and the audience to indulge in five minutes of group meditation: eyes closed, lotus position, thumb and forefinger joined. Not sure what we're meant to think about (other than water) during this time, but I'll give it a go. Hell, they're paying me; I can afford to be open-minded.
Don't know how or why I'm being showered with Good Karma Opera Gigs at the moment, but it's funny they should come along just after I start doing yoga. Long may it last. It all seems so far away from one of my first gigs, playing for Julie Peacock at the Moss Side Darby and Joan Club in 1985. They had no piano, just a two-octave Bontempi organ, so I had to arrange Ivor Novello standards in the Shearing style on the spur of the moment. After we finished, it was time for bingo and dancing, third-age, Mancunian repartee ringing around the smoke-filled room. You had to hand it to them, these guys really knew how to party. They enjoyed the music, too, even if they weren't really sure why we'd come in the first place.
Life is cleaner, more regulated, more sanitised and less spontaneous, now. I'm not sure it's all good, you know.