Wednesday 10 September 2014

Interview with Mark Ainley

Few personalities in the classical music world garner as much serious attention as Mark Ainley, whose daily updates on his Facebook page "The Piano Files" demand thoughtful consideration from piano-philes all over the world.  If there is ever an internet jukebox for the greatest piano performances, it would have to be Mark's brilliant selections. 

Facebook has become a successful platform for sharing knowledge, useful or otherwise, and our generation has come

Cava tasting at Pere Ventura, Sant Sadurni d'Anoia

No visit to Barcelona is complete without a tour of the Cava vineyards.  The province of Catalonia, of which Barcelona is the capital, is a heaven for foodies and wine lovers.  The Spanish bubbly - or Cava - is as much the soul of Catalans as Champagne to the French, or Riesling to the Germans; and here in Catalonia, Cava making is regarded as a time-honed family-kept tradition, not a cut-throat branding war that are played out by conglomerates.  Here in the Cava country, families and traditions still matter, and pledging allegiance to a wine maker is no less a sport than picking a football team.

This isn't my first time to Sant Sadurni d'Anoia, the capital of Cava making.  I have paid numerous visits to different wineries and vineyards, but one stood out among the rest:

Monday 8 September 2014

With Koji Attwood in Paris

Pianist and pedagogue Koji Attwood has been a close friend since my Juilliard days, and is still one of the pianists I most admire and respect.  When we weren't dissecting the shoulder of a Neapolitan jacket or recipes from previous episode of Iron Chef, we dissertated on the nuances of certain Horowitz recordings or Scriabin harmonies, over Chinese food or industrial strength espressos in Little Italy.  When we

Sunday 7 September 2014

Artisan Glassmaker Gerard Välvet

Right outside of Barcelona are three Cistercian monasteries that form a well-trodden pilgrimage route called the Cistercian Triangle.  The three monasteries, Santes Creus, Poblet, and Vallbona de les Monges are each planted in remote small towns steeply rooted in history and agricultural excellence.  While visiting Vallbona de les Monges, a town of less than 400 inhabitants, I stumbled across an interesting workshop across from the monastery.

Situated on the "main" road that looked to have been dug and paved in the Middle Ages, the high wall of the monastery

Saturday 6 September 2014

Tête-à-tête with Luis Aragunde, Mayor of Cambados, Galicia

My two concert trips to Cambados in Galicia (northwest Spain) had me totally convinced: not only is this truly an Albariño wine capital, it is also a seafood heaven. 

I also had the good fortune of making some new friends here, among them the honorable mayor of Cambados.  He was one burly, imposing man only countered by a gentleness and humour rarely wonted from a man of his stature.  His quiet manners masked the deep love he has for his hometown.