The worse the dress rehearsal, the better the final gig - goes a popular saying. Following this thread of reasoning, one could say that the preview performance of "An Evening with Jane Stirling", which took place at Kraków's Academy of Music on 16 April 2016, is a harbinger of a real run of success.
It is not the first time that technical hitches can thwart performers' intentions to provide an audience with an experience of a lifetime. Such was the case with An Evening with Jane Stirling on Saturday, the 16th April 2016, when the faulty equipment could have stolen the headlines and in doing so could have led to a total flop. Thanks to Marcin's expertise, Anna's composure and Marek's withdrawal from the eye of the storm, however, the whole enterprise was drawn to a successful end.
An Evening with Jane Stirling attracted an elegantly-clad international audience, the members of which could witness Marek's narration illustrated with video and photographic material and a selection of Chopin's pieces interpreted live by Anna. The performance commenced at 6 p.m. sharp with a heavy downpour, the first one this spring, which literally swept through the city's downtown, and thunders rumbling in a distant overture. A mere coincidence, or a sign?
TheAboutProject is a trio, where distribution of labour is strictly defined. So it was on last Saturday?s stormy evening. Normally fragile and timid Anna, as usual, became a real demoness, or rather a musical sovereign, when taming the Steinway & Sons grandpiano with Chopin's Prelude in C-minor being the climactic moment of the gig. How Jane Stirling's authentic Pleyel Grand Pianoforte, now in the Jagiellonian University's Collegium Maius Museum, survived the recording of her latest album - Chopin the Ungratful - still remains a mystery. Anna can lull the audience with the subtle rendition of the Composer's nocturnes, but at the same time she can roll through the keyboard like a hurricane with the arpeggios and cadences when interpreting his ballads. And indeed, that is what happened on the very evening. Marcin, an IT master of the ceremony, was in charge of presenting photographic and video material as well as creating an intimate atmosphere by applying proper lighting. Following Jane Stirling's example, he did his job keeping a low profile at the same time. It was Marek's task to rivet the audience's attention by spinning the yarns of theAboutProject's travels in the wake of Chopin and Stirling who visited the British Isles one year before the composer's premature death. Being in his element, Marek kept the attention of the spectators with the whole array of stories and anecdotes.
The enraptured audience remained calm in their seats. This could not be said about two-and-half-year-old Adam, who decided to provide his own idiosyncratic interpretation of Chopin's works by eloquently commenting on their performance. To the organisers' great disappointment, his parents made a somewhat dramatic decision to evacuate the whole family out of the venue. The rest of the Great Romantic's aficionados stayed up until the end of the gig, finally thanking the performers with a round of thunderous applause.
Now theAboutProject are looking forward to the next challenge to meet. It is the performance at the Jagiellonian University's Collegium Maius Museum, where, in the Green Room, An Evening with Jane Stirling will be given again on 23 April 2016 with Anna performing Chopin's pieces on the very Grandpiano which belonged to Jane Stirling and on which Chopin played during his stay in Scotland in the fall of 1848. Keep your fingers crossed!
May the memory of Jane W. Stirling spread far and wide!