About a year ago, history was made at the historic Elsinore Theatre in Salem, Oregon. The theatre is like a boroque castle with gothic cathedral domes and ornate trimmings on every edge and corner. Maestro Anthony Parnther, guest conducting from Los Angeles, joined with Joshua Bell and Salem Symphony to create a truly moving and thrilling performance for a packed house. I was seated in the upper balcony where the air had been steadily warming over the duration of the concert. Bethany had played harp in the first half and now was free to sit with me for the second half. Even to my less-than discerning eye and ear for violin virtuosity, Joshua Bell was exceptional to see and hear. His physicality was like an organism to which the instrument was an intrinsic part and the music was unlike any I had heard in its clarity, fluidity, and elevation. I loved the way Maestro Parnther moved. His substantial frame light and bouant on the balls of his feet as his hands danced lightly like he was conducting fantastical woodland creatures, and his largeness swooned with the flow. I felt the audience swell in joy and appreciation as minutes disappeared into transport. The audience’s internal criscendo erupted into applause and shouts of, “Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!” Mr. Bell consented to an unheard of eight curtain calls in the triumphal culmination of Salem Symphony’s inaugural, and as the musicians discovered only a matter of months later, its final season.
I met with Maestro Parnther a few months later as we dined in Eugene, Oregon. I liked him and our conversation never slowed, and even diverged for a few minutes into our common ties to Samoa in the South Pacific. I have largely forgotten the language though I used to be fluent, and his Samoan mother had taught him in some of the culture’s ways. And so I painted this painting to remember this special night in a special way, and to acknowledge the greatness of human experience possible with collaboration.