Well, here we are, “Celebrating 90 Years.” That’s what the Sarasota Music Club’s this year’s motto says. At the beginning, 90 years ago, we performed for each other, brought in professionals from The Outside to perform for us when we could, and always tried to encourage our young-uns to ‘do music.’ We weren’t much more than a fishing village back then, but we had pride.
Haig Yaghoobian epitomizes that time 90 years ago. He has been a member of SMC more than a year now, and faithfully drives down from Sun City Center to attend our meetings and participate in the three-part goals outlined above, including last week, when he performed for the rest of us on piano. Haig (I’m going to stick with his first name, for obvious reasons, and because I’ve gotten to know him over the past several months) is retired, after a long and successful business career in Technology that took him over much of the globe. He started piano lessons in Providence, Rhode Island, at age seven. He loved it then and continued that Passion for Piano wherever he went, learning more repertoire and performing for others, even though he did not choose to make a career in music. So, he is fulfilling the first SMC goal, performing for us, as a fellow-member.
His program consisted of the equivalent, in the classical piano world, of ‘Oldie Goldies’ - individual movements from favorite piano sonatas, or from collections of Preludes, Nocturnes, and Arabesques by Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, and Debussy – every one a winner. Toes all over the room were tapping, and heads were nodding in time with the familiar melodies. Carl Haas, the noted musicologist who brought the world of classical music to radio audiences world-wide for many years, always opened his broadcasts with the second movement of Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique, op.28, No.8. Haig included that, happily invoking the spirit of Haas, in his morning performance.
Haig is a skilled amateur, in the true sense of the word...he plays for the love of doing so. His technical skill is not that of a polished pro, but his love for the music comes through. A little on edge at first, he began to loosen up in his second Chopin piece, the Nocturne in Eb major, Op. 9, No.2. He closed his program with the one piece not familiar to us, a Danse by Scriabin, unfamiliar but welcome. All in all, he brought pleasure to his audience, as he intended. What he did not do, was speak to his audience. When I scolded him about this afterward, he allowed as how he usually does talk to his audience, and had intended to do that on this occasion...he had timed it all, music and commentary, to fit within an hour, but when he arrived, someone told him SMC programs were limited to 45 minutes, and, in a little bit of a panic, he decided to leave out the talking.
Pity! No wonder he was ‘on edge’ at first!
As I said, I have gotten to know Haig, and I find him to be a thoughtful, articulate person. I would like to have heard what he had to say about each selection...who wrote it, and for whom it was written, and why he, Haig, chose to include it here for us today.... you know, the kind of thing Carl Haas did so skillfully for his audiences. ( R.I.P., Carl! ) This not only helps us appreciate the music more, it personalizes the performer...it helps us see him as more than just an automaton, going through his set little routine. Some people think this distracts from the music, or panders to the audience. Not me! I like my performers to be real people, with likes and dislikes to go along with their musical skills.
Okay, my rant is over. Thanks to Haig for sharing his passion with us, and thanks to the Music Club for the past 90 years! I look forward to the next 90....
To find out where Haig will be performing, please visit his website: https://www.haigyaghoobian.com/upcoming-performances.