A friend invited me to join a community project. It is organised in a small town school near Brussels, the students of which are performing an opera written specially for them by a young composer. The school – I will clarify for my Polish readers, who might smile with disbelief – is a “normal” school, not a music one. My dear Polish readers, let’s take a moment to imagine executing a music-theatre performance with a complete amateur orchestra and choir in the high school we attended! Since I arrived in the West :), I have not ceased to wonder at and be impressed by the number of music amateurs, Dutch and Belgian, who go to their high school, university or even day job and then spend whatever’s left of their free time practising for the rehearsals of their amateur orchestra. Kudos to you people!
But that’s actually beside the point. So, there’s a small group of us professional musicians, helping out in the orchestra. There’s a lot of performers in this show – orchestra, choir and a handful of soloists. They are all different ages, I’m guessing from around 10 to 60-plus years old, most of them students or graduates of the school. Today was the first rehearsal and, next to being superimpressed with how much effort, enthusiasm and talent went into preparing this performance, I was especially captivated by one of the performers. He was on the older side, with a broad, confident figure, and a wide, extremely expressive face, surrounded by the most perfect salt-and-pepper hair and beard making him look like a cross between an old sea captain and an ancient Greek philosopher, what with the satirical gleam in his eyes. He moved his big body around with a lot of grace and confidence, and his gesticulation and facial expressions were extremely vigorous and very subtle at the same time, his elegance and attentiveness contrasting with his rugged face and gruff voice. The kind of face that is like a good book in itself, with a lifetime of adventure behind it – if there had been a Rembrandt around, he should have painted a portrait of this guy, if there was a Joseph Conrad surely he would have chosen this guy for his next hero in a novel! Oh that I had been better at character descriptions!