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Ah, My Amazing Friend

When Evan performed his Senior Recital at U.C.S.B., it was a special affair.  Even my parents, Frederick and Muriel, drove up from Los Angeles for the big event.  Of course they, especially my father, were always big fans of Evan’s music.  Every time Evan came to the house for dinner in L.A. my dad would look forward to the concert of improvisation he insisted on each time. 

But the humorous (in retrospect) part as well as the extraordinary parts always pop into my mind when I remember that recital evening.

Dale and Hal had graciously invited my parents and me to join them for dinner before the recital to help celebrate a bit in advance, to be sure Evan was well fed before his highly anticipated onstage appearance. The restaurant was probably one of the first Ruby Tuesdays in the country, just barely north of Isla Vista. 

We arrived at the restaurant with plenty of time to spare.  Steve Baldwin was our cool, deadpan waiter.  I knew him well – he was a photographer who also worked where I worked at Borsodi’s Coffee House.

Never shy about eating a big meal (and this is a man who characterizes his stomach as “cast iron”), certainly nerves before the big event didn’t seem to be a problem for Evan.  And for this special occasion, the sky was the limit.  “Please, order anything you want!”  Wine was ordered!  Lobster was ordered!  Steak and lobster! And of course lots else.

We all partook of the wine and starters. Main courses not at the table yet?  No problem.  I’m sure we just ate more bread and butter.  And then it seemed we were waiting, well, wasn’t it just a bit too long?  We called our waiter over. Do the words “…just taken fresh out of the freezer…” sound like an oxymoron?  These were Steve Baldwin’s calmly delivered words about the lobster.  He assured us the meal would be coming soon… It seemed to take forever.  When it did finally arrive, we ate a lot of food very, very quickly.

By the time we left the restaurant we had absolutely no time to spare.  Actually it was a bit worse than that.  Evan was holding it together remarkably well, considering the fact we were actually in the process of being late to his own Senior Recital.  I felt the gracious soporific advances of wine and a big meal.  I thought, if I were Evan I would be ready for a serious nap about now.

But of course the moment came, Evan walked out on the stage, and the recital began.  And there it was, the beauty that poured out of Evan’s fingers, the passion and power of Chopin and Prokofieff and I’ve forgotten exactly what/who else at the moment.  Evan, was this the recital that included your composition for cello and piano, that you performed with the cellist Rutkowski?

Evan had something else up his sleeve that he had kept from most everyone – including Roger Grove, his piano teacher at U.C.S.B..  When the time for the intermission came, after taking his bow, Evan announced to the audience to take just a few minutes break and come back to their seats; he would be playing an improvisation.  When he came back to the stage after those few minutes, he played his own passion and creativity.  It was so beautiful!  That was Evan, so talented in his traditional classical training (that actually came late by most standards), and so creative and irrepressible in his own gifts.  The evening was an amazing expression of so much, including those maverick qualities that have always been a part of his music.

After the recital, I couldn’t help going back to the part about our large, late meal, and having to rush, and arrive to a waiting audience, and get on that stage as if he’d been preparing quietly for it all afternoon. I asked Evan “how did you possibly manage that?”  I know, such a mundane question!   He said something like, well, once I sat down at the piano I could feel the energy coming into my fingers…

That’s the thing about Evan.  The power of music has always flowed into him.  At times it has flowed through him, at times he has transformed it as it encountered him – a remarkable prism to bend the light – everything from a cartoon theme in the cello and piano composition at U.C.S.B., to the fabulous and fun transformations of Shostokovich Preludes. – And then his own endless music creations in how many different forms and genres and instruments?  And all with so much love and humility.  How does anyone even do that? and even after such a giant meal?

*****

Evan, you are one of the best, longest, and most beloved friends of my entire life.  How lucky I am.  I embrace you with my whole heart and with so much gratitude. 

What’s more important, school or sleep?  We know the answer to that. Zzzzzzzz

How best to start the day at the U-Cen?  Two Ds and C.  And okay, when we decided to be health conscious, two Ds and C and O – Hey, that’ll make all the difference – just add more sugar!  (That’s 2 donuts and coffee and o.j. for the uninformed.)

So what’s to be done?  Let’s keep on eating and sleeping and making music!  And loving!  Can’t help it that Shakespeare has come to mind:  “If music be the food of love, play on!”  He’s got the three most important words there – Music, Food, Love!  We could create a flip book with that lovely phrase from Twelfth Night, and interchange those three critical words:  “If Love be the Food of Music, love on!”  “If Food be the Music of Love, eat on!”  I know it doesn’t end there, but I’d best put a stop to my permutations.  I could call them my Evanizations of Shakespeare!

You see dear Evan, your imagination inspires my imagination.  Ah, the beauty of Life. 

Ah, My Amazing Friend

Happy 60th Birthday to one of the world’s most special people.  (I’m not exaggerating)

xxx…ooo… 
  

 


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