In 2000, DH sent me to piano camp as a birthday gift. We were both taking music lessons (piano for me, guitar for him), and read Noah Adams’ book, Piano Lessons: Music, Love and True Adventures. The description of Adams’ week at Sonata Piano Camp as an adult student inspired DH to surprise me with the same.
It turned out to be the gift that kept on giving. I went many more times after that. I made great friends, and even improved my piano skills. One of my new friends attended with her mom, Betsy. Betsy was my duet partner in 2001. She was an amazing woman: A college math teacher, marathon runner, downhill ski racer, knitter, quilter.
When Betsy was dying in 2012, I sent a note along with a CD of her playing at Sonata, including the duet that we played. It arrived the morning she passed away. Last year her husband was deciding what to do with some of her things, and wanted to know if I would like her music quilt.
I love the composition of this, how she took the simple repetition of the black and white star blocks and personalized it with a music theme. The one brown star at the bottom left. The heart that balances it visually. The music staff border fabric. The embroidery around the top edge: “I love music, in around and, under the stars”. It is a beautiful piece of hand quilted art, expressing our love of music both visually and in words. I am so honored to receive this. I’m glad I knew Betsy, and I’m glad to have this quilt to remember her by.
Here’s our duet from 2001, Pastorale by Stecher, Horowitz, and Gordon. Betsy is playing primo, and I’m secondo.
My time is mostly devoted to knitting and designing now, with not much piano. Guitar and singing with friends is my current musical outlet. But every once in a while, I sit at the bench and play pieces I learned at camp…
If you’d like to know more about Sonata camps, here’s their website. All levels of playing welcome. And here’s an article from the NY Times; my roomie Katie Hafner wrote it in 2002.
Edited to add: Here’s a note from my friend Becky, Betsy’s daughter.
I am Betsy’s daughter. Michele and mom always had a special connection thru knitting and friendship. The CD Michele refers to contained a few songs from the sonata concert. The odd thing was the mailman brought it at 8 am the day she passed away and the receptionist said he never came before 2 pm. My mom had been unresponsive for 16 hrs but when I played the CD her eyebrows raised and she smiled. My stepfather Alex kept the letter that arrived with the CD. This past summer he asked me if he thought Michele would enjoy having the quilt. I immediately said yes they contacted Michele for confirmation. i am glad that my mom’s creativity is in the home of a fellow knitter and music lover.
Thank you, Becky!
M, your share keeps Betsy alive and allows the rest of us to enjoy what a nice person she still is. As usual, another delightful post from Portland’s own
Reblogged this on Piano Roles and commented:
Love this blog post from Michele Bernstein. Had to share since it mentions piano camp prominently!
Thank you for sharing this wonderful post. I had to reach for a hankie while reading it. Lovely beyond words — the quilt, the duet, the postman arriving at 8 a.m. and Betsy’s response upon hearing the CD. Another testament to the power of music!
Beautiful. on all levels.
What a beautiful gift, Michele, and a touching way by which to remember your dear friend. Thank you for sharing!
What a beautiful story. I’m glad you have the wonderful memories as well the special quilt.
Very beautiful, very special.
The quilt and the story behind it are treasures of the heart. Thanks for sharing pictures of it, as well as of your duet. What a lovely piece! Well done.