The Sounds and Music of Open Space
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Blog posting written by Jairo Geronymo, pianist, Nurnberg, Germany
I do not drink alcohol but I am a member of the Martini Mafia.
The president of the Martini Mafia, Charles*, a retired piano professor and the owner of the largest collection of portraits of Queen Elizabeth II outside England, has introduced me to Sarah. Sarah studied piano with Charles and recently gave me her first book, filled with watercolor portraits. People, pianos, blues, greens, browns.
Charles, Sarah and Jeremy, a piano professor always happy to talk about his promising piano students met regularly to go to concerts, talk about music and discuss our dear piano students.
Sarah is a founding member of the Martini Mafia, even though she also does not drink alcohol! Charles introduced me to Robert, an active New York singer and actor that shares his time between NYC and his second home in Montgomery, NY where he tends his garden, hosts parties for friends and rents his house for film productions. Charles and Robert met in the 1960’s in San Francisco, in a New Age Monastery before that sort of retreat became fashionable.
Once I moved to Ithaca, Robert introduced me to Sherman, a soldier at the Second World War, a former executive who had worked all over the world, with long stints in the Middle East in the forties.
I met Sherman shortly before his eightieth birthday. I attended three of his birthdays at his mountaintop home in Lockwood, NY, thirty miles south of Ithaca. His birthdays were celebrated with wonderful food and much singing. I sight-read songs on the piano while many of the guests sang joyfully. They were always amazed that I didn’t know the different songs. I was a baby when these guys were already performing those songs onstage! Sherman lost a singing competition to the teenager Barbra Streisand. I will save that story for later.
I just received Sherman’s second CD in the mail. He recorded both his CDs after he turned eighty. The inside cover portrays him through four images from different periods of his life: as a teenager, as a soldier in the Second World War, atop a camel in the desert, and today. In this CD, “Songs from The Greatest Generation” he sings hits from Sinatra, Fitzgerald, Bennett and others. I will reserve my compliments for when I talk to Sherman on the phone. His singing inspires me.
So why did I tell you about all these colorful characters? What do they all have in common?
They all have come together as friends through music. It is interesting that something as ethereal and volatile as music can keep friends united for decades. I baptized the group known as the ‘Martini Mafia’. They are actually music makers, one way or another. They met to go to concerts, talk about music, piano students. Life.
So I raise my Martini glass filled with orange juice to all these women and men that have loved and made music throughout their lives. Their music has enriched the lives of so many others--and that’s what this is all about.
*All the characters portrayed in this blog are not fictional. All names were changed. Sherman’s CD is not available commercially. I never had an ‘alcohol problem’. No animals were harmed during the writing of this blog.