Music: The Ultimate Communicator

Many years back in high school, when my parents/family knew I was officially going into the music business, I remember them buying me a whole myriad of CD's from a wide range of musicians and musical artists.  One CD in particular I enjoyed the most due to the style of music.  I felt like I was in heaven with angels playing their harps of joy and peace or near a waterfall hearing the rush of water falling down onto earth.  This individual CD is called "Romantica" by the legendary pianist extraordinaire, John Bayless.  If you have ever heard the piano duo Ferrante and Teicher, you will recognize the powerful and gallant playing where every piece of music played was full of pomp and circumstance.  But John Bayless didn't need a duo.  He made the music powerful and gallant by just him playing.  He would take popular music such as pieces from movies, "Cinema Paradiso", folk songs, "Santa Lucia", or even Broadway musicals, "Tomorrow", "Somewhere" from "Westside Story", and create a whole masterpiece of his own using his talent and knowledge from the "Bach-a-fide" technical Baroque period, the "Mozartiad" whimsical Classical period, the gallant heroic Romantic period, to the Anvant Garde of the 20th Century. 

Eight years ago, when I was working in the box office at the Newport Music Festival, I found out that one of the artists that was going to perform during that season was none other than John Bayless.  I was so ecstatic that one of my classical idols was going to play at the Festival!  I couldn't contain my excitement anymore so I told Dr. Mark Malkovich III and his wife, Joan Malkovich, that I was a big fan of John Bayless and that I had one of his CD's.  They told me that John was a close friend of Dr. Malkovich and they went to Julliard together and that John Bayless was going to have dinner at their house that night.  They told me to give them my CD and that John Bayless would autograph it for me.  So, I gave it to them not knowing what would transpire afterwards.  Well, the next morning at the box office a nice musky scent came over me.  When I turned around to see where the scent was coming from, I saw my idol, John Bayless, standing there with my CD and a hug and a kiss.  I opened the CD case and saw written on the CD, "Hi Robin!!! All the best! Sincerely, John Bayless Newport 2003".  The CD still has the slight musky scent :-) 

Three years ago, about a month after I saw him during that season, John suffered a stroke which immobilized his whole right side.  He mentioned that it was like God had shut a door on him.  He underwent extensive therapies to learn how to walk and talk, etc.  He had to rediscover who he really was from the inside out.  A friend mentioned to him that if Ravel (French impressionistic composer) could write music specifically for just the left hand so can he.  And he did.  It's like, as he said, if one door closes another will open.  Another door did open and he was able to dig deep into his creative juices to invent new ways to play.  He was, and is not, a quitter.  He mentioned that music is the ultimate communicator.  When words can't speak, music does.  His passion, his love, his life is transposed into his music for all to hear, all to see, and all to feel.

Yesterday evening I walked into the Breakers mansion to volunteer for the Newport Music Festival's 8pm concert.  Then all of a sudden something stopped me in my tracks as I had walked into the front part of the house.  This organized sound, this music sounded like a bunch of pianos playing all at once.  It sounded bigger than life.  I looked up and saw John Bayless playing, but it was only his left hand.  He had tapped into a talent that made every piece of music he played sound like four hands playing.  It was phenomenal!!!  Through out the whole entire concert the sound of his playing echoed through the halls of the Breakers and even made the crashing of the waves, which were just down the back lawn, seem so distant. 

Knowing me, I am not that great with words.  It takes me a while, sometimes it seems a life time, to find the right words to say.  All my feelings seem trapped inside unable to find the words to express them.  That's where music comes in.  I don't need words in the music to help me to express how I feel.  Just to feel the rhythm, the tempo, the vibrations flowing through me is proof that expressions don't need words.  No matter what pain I might be going through at the time music never fails me.  It is there full of unconditional love and compassion ready to wrap me up in its splendor. 

Well, that is all for this edition of The World According to Robin-Louise.  Next time I will be talking about Classical music and the possibility of "extinction".  What do we need to do as supporters of he Arts to keep Classical music around for another 400 years?  Please feel free to comment below!  I look forward to hearing from you!


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