I’ve always noticed how artistic inspiration can be found by just being immersed in a particular environment. The interplay between the artist and the surroundings has always been of great interest and fascination to me. It was particularly so in my recent concert in Assisi, Italy, where I performed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons outdoor, amidst nature in a very special place, the Bosco di San Francesco.
Many would know Assisi as the birthplace of San Francesco, or St. Francis, an important saint in Italian and Christian history. As it turns out, the Bosco di San Francesco, a 64 hectare piece of stunning Italian wooded landscape right beside the famous St. Francis Basilica, is a very significant site in the history of St. Francis and a frequent destination for Christian pilgrims. With this in mind, I stepped onto these sacred grounds. When I looked around for the first time, I immediately felt that there was something extremely special and revered about this place. It was meaningful just to be here.
Performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons here with orchestra was therefore an extraordinary experience. When playing these classic pieces, one would always try to portray the spirit and liveliness of nature. Playing them here only enhanced the communion with nature first-hand. Aside from the historical significance, the mere act of just breathing the air and noticing the lush and vivid greenery on all sides of me was already breathtaking. While playing the season of Summer especially, feeling the immense heat of Italian summer fueled me with much strength and imagination. Overall, it was moving to share this wonderful musical experience in such a place with the musicians of I Cameristi del Maggio Fiorentino as well as the large and appreciative audience. I felt so much energy and emotion onstage this time even after what would normally be a draining 40 minute musical workout, and managed to return to the stage with Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen as an encore.