2019 in a flash…

Someone once told me that some people write when they do not feel that they have someone to listen to them, somebody close enough to whom they can pour all their secrets and not so secret longings, emotions, everyday hustles, ideas for future etc… And for those, the moment they find that person who can take it all, they do not feel the urge to write that much or not at all. I am still pondering if it is true or not but objectively speaking it took me more than 9 months to write again, so go figure which category I belong to… There were many moments I did want to sit down again and immerse myself in writing but always there were more important things to do, to experience, to enjoy, simply to live, there was not enough time. Now once the year is coming to a close, as well as my birthday approaching and another year in my life, I feel more inclined to write, for you my readers, or maybe for myself as well, to have the memory of this fantastic and amazing year.

After the trip to Portugal, which I covered in my last post, there was my 1st solo concert of the year where I presented works by Chopin, Szymanowski and Schubert. It went quite well, with some things to improve but with hope that what I am doing as an artist is right and I should continue towards that direction.

Next was much awaited Easter in Poland with stays not only in my hometown Łódź but also visiting Toruń and the seaside in Gdańsk and Sopot. Easter in Poland is a serious affair, as all feasts are, and it always involves food 😉 And Easter is that holiday that we celebrate with eggs, which is a bit problematic since my partner does not eat eggs (unless they’re disguised in something); so my family and friends did their utmost to make the least amount of egg dishes and when so, they tried to put them as far away from him as possible on the table 😉 We managed to visit Herbst Palace in Łódź, the cathedral and then stroll along Piotrkowska Street in spring. One day my father took us to visit Ciechocinek and the medieval City of Toruń, which made a great impression on my other half and I promised we will come back there for more time than just a couple of hours. In Toruń we strolled on the main street and tasted some baked pierogi and as usual we fell in the trap of ordering much more that we could digest. The last few days we spent in Gdańsk, visiting the old town and also taking the train to the seaside resort of Sopot with a wonderful journey back on the boat. Weather was marvelous since it was end of April, with almost summer temperatures, and we had a great time with plans to return to all the cities we visited – maybe not Ciechocinek, but that was my dad’s special request that I could not say no to.

Ciechocinek

In the meantime, I also took part in a voice class concert in Malta School of Music, this time as a student- mezzo soprano in Ms Miriam Cauchi’s class performing Che faro senza Euridice from Gluck’s opera. I have to admit I was never ever that frightened in my life when playing piano; singing is a completely different thing. This is my 2nd year of leisure course with Ms Miriam and I am learning lots; I just hope I can do justice to the knowledge passed on to me and put more of it to practice. It is incredible how singing can improve the act of playing the instrument. Suddenly you are more aware of how the sound should, well … sound! And you are finally trying to replicate it. I really appreciate it as it is making me a better musician.

Next on the list was the end of the school year and invitation to take part in MPO concert as part of Victoria Arts Festival in Gozo playing celeste in Orff’s Carmina Burana. Pianos are not a standard orchestral instrument, therefore those invitations to collaborate with orchestra, not as a soloist but as a part of it, are not happening that often and many times you are not only asked to play the actual piano but also other keyboard instruments. I was very happy to take part in this concert and also to make a short holiday in Gozo as rehearsals were in Victoria.

We stayed in Xaghra, which is quickly becoming my favourite village in Gozo, where we stayed as well with my friend Ewa from Poland and enjoyed visiting our top eating spots in Gozo like Sicilia Bella in Mgarr, Bunna Cafe in Victoria and Odyssey in Marsalforn, as well as Olympic in Xaghra. Everywhere there is great quality of food, mostly Sicilian, and my visit to Gozo has to end in one of those places. That’s obligatory!

Generally summer was spent between Malta and Gozo, as this was my first time that I have spent both summer months here, and with my Maltese partner I have visited more places and restaurants that I did in the last 7 years living here. That’s what means being in a relationship with a local. We bought a tent and spent few times camping in Gozo with bbq on the beach, wine festivals, snorkeling and swimming along with jellyfish – which ended up with the inevitable burn that made me scared to swim for the rest of the summer, bbq on the balcony, visiting the fireworks display in Mqabba, making sushi at home, beer festival in St. Elmo, jazz festival in Valletta, simply carpe diem during the whole summer- I cannot even remember all the great things I did this summer… I long for summers like this one every year!

Despite our idea of not going away for summer, we decided to go for last minute holidays to San Vito Lo Capo in Sicily in September, and what a week it was. We started by visiting all that was possible to cram in one day in Palermo: the Norman Palace, the cathedral as well as a tour of the Teatro Massimo. We did more than 20 km of walking that day; I had to buy new shoes as the old ones fell apart, but happily we got on the bus to San Vito where we spent another few days chilling, swimming, cycling, attending jazz festival and of course dining as kings since the restaurants in the area were more than great, it is even hard to name them all…

It wasn’t there where we discovered one of the best wines produced by Donna Fugata (Sicilia Bella in Mgarr, Gozo introduced as to this label) but it was in San Vito that we painstakingly (!) tried all possible wines from this producer. It is not only about the taste but also the attention to the label design – the producer collaborated with an artist who designed every single label based on a picture of a woman with long hair. It is really beautiful and the taste of the wines is great. I just wished all the range would be available to buy here in Malta, we only seem to find Sedara and Anthilia in the local supermarket. The place we stayed in was idyllic as well, with a nice terrace and a swimming pool, just few steps from the beach, with bicycles available and an attentive host willing to recommend us good foodie spots. What would you wish more? Just to stay there longer than a week. As we didn’t have a car, we visited the village quite thoroughly and had a relaxing, unhurried time there. We even have seen one of the spots from the Montalbano series (the tonnara) – and we are big fans of the novels as well as of the TV show itself.

After recharging batteries in San Vito we were ready to face the music in almost literal meaning – me having my 2nd solo concert and him having the launch of his 2nd book. It was a busy but how exciting October for us. Both events went really well. I’ve performed some works by Chopin, Szymanowski, Lutoslawski and Ravel and he presented 20 para-historical stories about Malta from its beginnings to 21st century- some funny, some romantic, some tragic, unfortunately all in Maltese, so I just had to rely on his translation when they were being written and the storyline and the way it was written was really great. I just wish at some point I will be able to read them in original. What made October even more special, was my mum’s visit, who attended my 2nd concert and also enjoyed her birthday during this week. As usual it was celebrated with some good food – this time in Marsaxlokk’s Terrone as well as trips around Malta.

Then in November I made a surprise trip to Poland for a few days to do some shopping and enjoy Poland on my own. I have to admit I really missed my other half and I have promised to myself not to travel alone anymore; it is not as much fun as it used to be, I wonder why 😉 I had to travel to Łódź via Katowice, as Wizzair for the x-time changed my flight last minute, therefore I was arriving so late that I had to stay over in Katowice which ruined a bit my 3 day trip… Being a bit lonely, my mum being under the weather and not meeting all the friends then, well, it was still worth it but not as much fun as I expected it to be.

After coming back from Poland I was in frantic preparations towards my last and 3rd solo concert of the year. Somehow there wasn’t enough time; that’s how it felt but I have put as much work as I could and then, in the end I had to cancel/postpone the event due to the political situation in Valletta – protests in front of the parliament, which is just a stone throw away from the theatre, therefore the management asked me to postpone it. I felt bitter-sweet, on one hand I was relieved I can prepare better but on the other I was almost there. Well, now after taking 2 weeks off, I am back on track with preparing it and being even better than before … I hope so!

The end of December led to a few concerts with Amadeus Choir – the traditional Prelude to Christmas in Mdina, which was also repeated in St. Julian’s church, as well as Christmas carols in Corinthia in Floriana and Midnight mass in St. Julians. Then, I could say, yes! my music year is over. I can rest and enjoy Christmas with the loved ones – including my beloved Mediterranean human and Maltese ginger gato!

Tomorrow is my birthday and then, the day after, the year comes to an end and I cannot say I was ever happier, well … being a bit more rounder thanks to all the great food we shared, but very grateful and happy for the year that has passed.

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