12 February 2008

Yutaka Sado

Here in Venice, in the absence of the human voices I know and love, music has become very important to me. Something new for me! My work is solitary, sometimes late-night and lonely, so I rely heavily on my little iPod, televised music from MTV to La Fenice, and whatever I can pick up on the street – sometimes it’s Vivaldi and sometimes it’s hip-hop. And a few of you know about my private, energy-expending pastime, “mutandini dancin’.” (Venetian readers, I am aware that mutandini is incorrect. American readers, think “underpants dance.”) I confess I am rather ignorant about music, but – like those who “don’t know anything about art” – I know what I like. More important, I know why. I like it best when it moves the spirit and provokes the mind, no matter what the genre.

Over the weekend I had the great good fortune to visit Teatro Malibran, for fun and for free, to sit in a plush house seat, view unobstructed, and to fall under the spell of a remarkable conductor – Yutaka Sado.

Once he comes to the podium, it is impossible to take your eyes away from this tall, handsome man who is so clearly in right livelihood – a primary value of mine. The music seems to channel right through him to his orchestra. He stretches it, he crouches over it, he draws it to himself, he extends himself into it. Sometimes it almost makes him leap right off the podium. It is a powerful thing to see, and the result of his effort is a thrilling thing to hear – pure and rich. I suspect the orchestra feels the same. When it’s all over and the applause comes in waves, Yutaka Sado is the very picture of gracious humility.

Afterwards I had the privilege of meeting the conductor and his beautiful wife. He was warm and utterly charming – so much so that I spontaneously reached right out and touched his still-flushed cheek! I sincerely hope this was not too terrible a gaffe in the eyes of the Japanese friends, nor anyone else present. I simply could not help myself.

I owe thanks for this gift to my friend Craig Urquhart, himself a composer and pianist of stunning talent. Give yourself a great treat: Google him and listen to his beautiful, sensitive solo piano music.