Anyone in Golden Gate Park’s Botanical Gardens this past weekend surely came across a few pianos there, among the dozen temporarily planted in the Arboretum for the July 2015 event dubbed, simply, “Flower Piano.” Behind each ivory keyboard sat either a “scheduled pianist,” as the official announcement put it, or bold amateurs who chose this public venue to add their own mainly classical notes, which reverberated in the Garden.
“You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation,” the English poet James Fenton declared – not about music, but about verse, though the distinction can seem, in ways, a fine one. Both arts are rooted in sound and rhythm, and both begin with the process of composing, of course – a term entwined in its etymology: the Latin componere stems from the notion of arranging various parts to form a harmonious whole.
In the Garden’s Redwood Grove, where one of the scheduled pianists regaled us with compositions by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Schubert – a musical harvest – I noticed a bench with a dedication on it to a Mr. Calvert W. Bowman, and underneath his name and the dates that mark the start and end of his life, the phrase “A Cherished Time.”
And so, this dedication as well: May our creative work reverberate during our lives, and even beyond; and for all its challenges, may we cherish the times of both making and sharing art.