The Hermitage

tony-hermitageWhere to begin… I had the most incredibly inspiring experience last week in Florida performing some of the great drummer/composer Bobby Previte’s music in Sarasota. Bobby recently won the Greenfield Prize, an award given to one artist every year and he couldn’t make the award ceremony in Sarasota so I’ve been working with him the past month or so, transcribing and learning his piano music.

I stayed at the Hermitage Artist Retreat on Manasota Key, a pristine little artist beach retreat. My cabin has about 30 steps from the beach and ocean with an acoustic and electric piano, murphy bed, writing desk, shower, sink, toilet and a little porch. The energy in the room had a power and vibe like some serious creativity has been realized in there. I spent most of the time topless in either shorts or my bathing suit. What a rough life.

hermitageThe day of the performance was last Saturday. I was a total bone head and almost missed my ride from the Hermitage, which was an hour away, to the venue in Sarasota because I didn’t know what time we were leaving. I decided to take a walk on the beach and swim in the ocean without bringing my cell phone. I came back to my cabin and there was a note in the front door. “Tony, we’re leaving at 11:15. See you soon.” It was 11:32. Shit! I scrambled and called the numbers I had missed on my cell and fortunately got a ride into town.

I performed four of Bobby’s pieces, the last one being the most memorable because Bobby instructed everyone who was able and wanted to surround the piano and listen to his meditative slow piece in Ab called, Veltin. Mrs. Louise Greenfield, the name sake and co-originator of the Greenfield Prize was a sprightly 98 with a firm hand shake and twinkle in her eye sat next to me on my piano bench and listened to the piece. Afterwards she asked if she could have a copy of the music. I gave her my scores and she thanked me and said she was going to play them the following day.sunset-hermitage

The next couple of days I was able to enjoy the gift of the Hermitage, walk on the beach, swim in the ocean, compose music and practice piano. After it was all said and done, I felt a new invigoration towards music and being an artist like I haven’t in years. It was truly a memorable and life changing experience.

Since returning from Florida I’ve been with Louise as a single Dad since Wednesday. It’s probably been the longest stretch that I’ve been with her one on one. For the most part we had a blast. I now this already but after spending a chulouise-kitenk of time with Louise like that, I realized in a different light how much of a responsibility it is in being the guardian of another life, especially when you’re doing it for the most part on your own.

Some highlights from our days together was that we had some music lessons, a sleepover at our friend Tommy and Tallulah’s house, baked cookies, made jewelry, Louise flew her first kite and we co-wrote a book. I do feel a little exhausted from everything and am ready to start my week. I’ve been shedding excerpts from Mozart’s The Magic Flute lately for Hawthorne Valley which has been a fun challenge. It feels so rewarding to play such beautiful music, especially with a choir.