SEPTEMBER 2009: Special Edition

SEPTEMBER 2009: Special Edition
September 10, 2009 leonard slatkin

Usually I am content just to write about the past months activities, with no stopping off for side trips. But since 65 seems to be one of those special occasions, and since it turned out to be unique, I have decided to share it with everyone a bit earlier than usual.

For three days, I have been part of a Festival in Dubrovnik which is called “Julian Rachlin and Friends.” Boy, does he have a lot of friends. Our pictures are plastered on posters distributed all over town. Julian had invited me to work here and I readily agreed, knowing that the milestone birthday would occur in this beautiful Croatian city.

Most of the day was spent quietly, getting some rest before the rigors of the regular season would commence the following week. But in the evening there was a non-conducted concert by the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields, without Neville Marriner. Julian actually did lead one of the pieces, Mozart’s 29th Symphony, which I had taken him through when we were together in Seattle. There was also an interesting transcription of Liszt’s Dante Sonata for violin and strings.

At the end of the printed program, Julian thanked everyone for attending and said that there was a special birthday that he and the orchestra wanted to celebrate. For a brief moment, I was worried that everyone would start singing, but instead, they launched into an arrangement of Happy Birthday Variations which had been set in the styles of several different composers. This was really touching and I was flattered beyond belief.

But it was just the start.

The members of the orchestra and Julian had a dinner at a lovely restaurant near the performance venue. Julian spoke again and then he and the orchestra’s concertmaster, Harvey Souza, played another set of Happy Birthday variations, this time incorporating almost all of the famous violin concertos! By this hour, all of us had enjoyed a lovely meal and much Croatian red was imbibed. Dessert followed, with the staff of the restaurant serving a bevy of sweet treats, candles and sparklers adorning them.

We walked a bit through the city, on an absolutely delightful evening, knowing that many new friends had been made on this trip.

I will never forget this special day.