With ever increasing regularity, we are asked to pull a rabbit out of a hat. As a team, we thrive on the opportunity.
Recently, an American colleague commissioned us to organize an event with WOW factor in Barcelona for a group of 30 guests. There were caveats; there must be a grand piano, it needs to be a venue that works for 30 people. Oh and by the way the same group enjoyed a private recital in Saint Catherine´s Palace in Saint Petersburg last year and they were played in by the Russian Guards along a red-carpet entrance. I watched the video and quaked.
We pride ourselves on our local contacts, most of whom are friends not just colleagues. I called Dan our man in Barcelona and asked him for ideas.
“Is there a space in Barcelona that blows your mind and could work for a piano concert?”
He didn´t pause for long before he pronounced, “The Sala Lluís Domènech i Montaner in the Recinte Modernista of Sant Pau.”
“Come again?” I replied, baffled.
“In the Sala Lluís Domènech i Montaner in the Recinte Modernista of Sant Pau.”
Now, the name of this architect rang a bell. I remembered hearing it as part of the background explanation of Barcelona´s modernist architectural movement. The guy with the unpronounceable name. I remembered he was a contemporary of Antoní Gaudí but I had never seen any of his buildings.
“It´s perfect,” Dan enthused down the phone. “Contact the venue and see if it´s available.”
Fast forward 18 months, one pandemic, several postponements, many late cancellations and there we were, standing in the hallowed space. The soft autumnal light pushed its final rays through the wall of glass of one of the most breathtaking architectural spaces I have ever seen. Viewed by many as the epitome of the movement, this double heighted space defied the established laws of architecture and broke molds to find a new freedom of organic expression in hard material; wood, marble, ceramic, plaster and glass hold each other in sublime balance.
There on the stage, a Steinway & Sons Type B that used to belong the Spanish soprano Victoria de los Angeles, sat expectant. But whose hands would play her?
“(The piano is) able to communicate the subtlest universal truths by means of wood, metal and vibrating air.” -Kenneth Miller
The original pianist cancelled due to covid complications and we had scrambled to find a performer who could do the piano, the space and the event justice. Forget six degrees of separation; we found her within four. A friend of the husband of a friend of a friend made the introduction and two days later, Laura Andrés had agreed to play for us. She walked into our imaginations, dressed exquisitely in a black evening gown, and drop earrings, playing Bach, Einaudi, Horner, Tiersen and Morricone before pausing to introduce her own album which she has composed during lockdown.
BLANC is a meditation on love, a tribute to the all-encompassing emotion of family, friends, music and piano. Her minimal notes were held in suspension long after the applause. An hour after the standing ovation, they were still there, clinging to the arches and vaulted beams of that celestial ceiling. There were no saints or prophets or altars; there was only music. We were bound by the vibrations of the piano that night. There was a connection between place, space, melody, and muses. Thirty-four of us had listened in the hall and we found out later that staff, security, waiters, and maître d had listened with ears pressed to the cracks in doors to partake in the wonder. When the double doors opened and drinks were proffered on silver trays, eyes gleamed with the privilege of something just lived, something just experienced that will never be repeated.
Thank you, Barbara, for laying down the challenge. Thank you, Laura, for capturing so beautifully the vision for the event and running with it. And lastly, thank you Lluís Domènech i Montaner for conceiving and building such a space that could hold our dreams and expand them to new dimensions. I promise I will memorize your name.