Unnoticed by a majority of the tourist sector, August in Majorca is that time of the year when the island winds down to an almost virtual standstill. Factories and suppliers close for the entire month, with many companies downing tools until September.
It’s an impossible time to attempt any business negotiations as no one is available. Many families have left their village homes and gone to camp out for the rest of the summer, at their beach homes.
We have a local friend who is off to spend two fun filled weeks in a rambling, rented house at the beach with 29 friends and relatives – both adults and children. It’s more of a dormitory accommodation experience but they all seem to love the chaos. We used to call that ‘Butlins!’ But to the Majorcans it is simply another great excuse for a get together!
Our own township of Mancor de la Vall has also gone extremely quiet, apart from the odd invasion of cyclists who still haunt the cobbled lanes, turning the only bar left open into a cluttered bike parking venue.
Come the twilight hours, the township becomes a quiet, peaceful scene, guarded by a handful of local ladies, sitting sentinel on chairs outside their village homes, chatting into the cooler hours waiting for their loved ones to return. And return they did . . . NOT, I might add at the end of August as tradition dictates, but on the memorable evening of Friday 23rd, for one night only, to attend the much anticipated open air piano concert by local maestro Stephen Blue.
The locals headed back in their droves, along with many others from neighbouring towns and villages across the island, determined NOT to miss an evening of romantic music beneath the stars. One couple flew in especially from the UK, while another came all the way from the USA, booking their holiday a week earlier to catch the concert. Such is the notoriety of Stephen Blue’s growing fame across the island.
The packed concert, provided free admission as a gift to the community from Stephen and sponsored by the Ayuntamiento of Mancor de la Vall, took place in the charming church square, lit and glowing, not only by the light of over 300 candles but with the exuberant smiles of the adoring audience who arrived early to claim their seats before Maestro Blue took to the piano – a concert grand, tuned and polished, fit for the occasion. And believe me, it certainly was an occasion, a real event!
The stage was set. Wicker baskets filled with white flowers hung decoratively from the trees. The venue was aglow with the mellow shimmer of amber candle-light, atmospheric, romantic and above all – ‘magical’. That was the whispered word buzzing through the audience before the ‘magic’ really did begin.
The talented Stephen Blue played his heart and soul out beneath a starlit sky with an impressive selection of popular, contemporary film scores, peppered with a sprinkling of light classical pieces and musical theatre favourites. Stephen also included a pot-pourri of creative medleys with timeless classics inspired by American, Italian and French composers. He even played an original piece composed for the community of Mancor titled, ‘Dreams of Summer’ which he dedicated to the appreciative audience of his home town. You couldn’t have possibly crammed another person into that truly magical space. People were standing, sitting on walls, in fact perching anywhere they could to participate in the anticipated musical event.
The smooth, mellifluous performance was passionate, soulful and emotional, evoking musical memories of past decades; iconic classics like Now Voyager and Gone With The Wind were woven spectacularly with contemporary pieces including the haunting theme from Titanic, Wind Beneath My Wings and Abba’s ‘Winner Takes It All’.
You simply didn’t know what was coming next, and each rendition blended beautifully into an evening of delicious surprise, ending to rapturous applause from a totally appreciative audience which would have taken the roof off had there actually been one!
This enchanting, mesmerising concert came to an end with a standing ovation, after a final, sentimental encore of ‘Over the Rainbow.’
Once again, I noticed there was no sheet music whatsoever on the piano, so this sensational concert had come entirely from preparation stored inside the pianist’s inspired head. So not only was the experience truly magical . . . it was actually truly INCREDIBLE that anyone could keep all that magic contained within, delivered with both a pure desire to perform and the passion to share such an immeasurable talent.
As the final notes faded and the concert came to its inevitable conclusion, Stephen was surrounded by well-wishers all eager to know when his next concert was being scheduled. Each taking home with them a personal memory of an exquisite evening touched by music and haunted by forgotten memories which the mystical talent of such musical genius had evoked.
I asked Stephen how it felt to lead people on such a memorable, sentimental journey. “The true magic of music,” he said, “is that it really connects people. Music carries a universal message, and as a musician, I become the messenger. When I play, all I want is for people to simply close their eyes, relax and feel the emotion and magic behind each melody. I actually feel that the audience is right there with me, sharing my heart. It’s a wonderful experience.”
Personally, I think anyone who can catalogue an entire concert inside their head must be some kind of a magician! And anyone who can create such feelings of emotion, joy and passion throughout an audience is in possession of a much needed talent that surpasses magic and embraces love- something the world really needs a lot of right now. Thank you Stephen Blue for your talent, your generosity, and the magic of your music.