My hometown of Mancor de la Vall, a small yet vibrant community at the foot of the sleepy Tramuntana mountain range, is notorious for its love of fiesta, along with its appreciation of ‘the arts’.
It is also joked about, and locally reported, that the ‘Mancorins’ will happily throw a party to celebrate an airplane flying over the village!
Therefore, when a legitimate excuse to celebrate, with an arts or music event, a cultural/craft fair, or a fiesta celebrating anything from mushrooms and snails through to artisan beers and olives, then the locals are out in force, supporting their thirst for entertainment.
So far this year, the arts and entertainment committee of Mancor de la Vall has organised a cycle of five individual concerts within our small yet uber-cultural village, featuring a diverse musical programme, showcasing a platform of musical talent throughout April – June, including Julia Colom – a traditional Majorcan singer, Marala – a chic all girl ensemble, the Victor Uris Trio, Cap-pela – a local acapella group, and Voicello – a classical singer and cellist duo.
Sadly, back in June, at Mancor’s annual San Juan Fiestas, the much anticipated open air piano concert by local maestro Stephen Blue was missing from the cultural programme.
Stephen has famously performed at the local fiestas for the past three years, offering his gift of music to the appreciative township; yet because of the distraction surrounding politics and the ‘all consuming’ local elections, the organizers at the time, didn’t get round to asking Stephen until the very last minute, giving him no time whatsoever to prepare another mind-blowing, magical evening for the community.
Stephen creates all his own arrangements and plays without any written music, so as you can imagine, there is a lot of work to be taken into consideration involving artistic planning for an evening’s programme.
However, Stephen’s inspiring performance was so sorely missed by his growing fans in both the village and across the island, that people began asking why he wasn’t playing? So, by popular demand, Stephen Blue is back, and will be tinkling the ivories of a concert grand piano, while the sun is setting, surrounded by hundreds of flickering candles in the church square of Mancor de la Vall on August 23 at 9 pm for a special, romantic, summer concert beneath the stars. Once again, admission is free. Thank you Stephen Blue!
Maestro Stephen will be playing his heart and soul out with a selection of timeless and popular international music from film and theatre, along with a mélange of light classical pieces. I’m hoping we will also be treated to another pot- pourri of contemporary favourites like previous years, although Stephen has already hinted there will be a few new surprises in store!
There are those performers who simply sit at a piano and play. Then there are those who truly make their instrument sing! British resident, pianist and composer Stephen Blue is one of those inspired, talented performers who play from the heart and soul of his very being, leaving you breathless as he inspires you to relax and spread your wings, taking you on a memorable flight of musical nostalgia.
I asked Stephen how he prepares for such a solo performance beneath the stars. How his emotional interpretations blend effortlessly from one mellifluous melody to the rousing drama of the next.
He told me that the music is the real star of any performance.“The true magic of all music is that it really connects people. Music carries a message, and as a musician, I become the messenger, bringing my personal love of music to the audience. When I play, I want people to simply close their eyes, relax and feel the emotion and the magic behind every single note and melody.”
Personally, I think anyone who can catalogue an entire concert inside their head must be some kind of a magician themselves!
When I asked Stephen how he achieves this outstanding feat of memory, he smiled and said; “Although many of the pieces I play are well rehearsed, the actual performance on the evening is completely spontaneous and depends on how I feel in the moment. I am also inspired by the vibe and the spirit of the audience around me.
"The experience is different each time I play. That’s why I can’t be constrained by sheet music. I play with total freedom. I feel it in my heart and it flows through my fingers. I like to think I am an instrument delivering the talent of genius composers with my own interpretation. It is as exciting and mesmerizing for me as hopefully it is for my audience. I cannot think of a nicer gift to present to the community of my home town, than the gift of heart felt music”.
I asked Stephen how he manages to hypnotise the local audience into silence when he’s performing, and do they recognise the pieces he plays. “It doesn’t really matter what nationality the audience is, or their personal, cultural taste,” he said.
“Music is a universal language of its own and transcends all cultures. Surprisingly, the musical appreciation here in Mancor is remarkable, and most of what I play is instantly recognised. They are also very respectful and sit in hushed silence throughout the performance right to the very end.”
I couldn’t help thinking, but that phenomenon alone has got to involve some kind of magic!
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