Synergy in chance encounters

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Sometimes paths cross randomly, resulting in memorable encounters that no one could have anticipated, then the players involved in these situations move on, forever touched by the synergy of having met.

I was in the process of learning a song cycle by Ravel, entitled Don Quichotte a Dulcinee, and I wanted to build a programme around the work for a song recital which would feature songs with Spanish theme, by French composers as well as some Spanish folk songs that I selected from an anthology that belonged to my singing teacher. I had visited Buenos Aires a couple of times, where I bought scores of art songs by Argentine composers. I also wanted to include some of those songs in the recital programme.

The music was available, but I needed help with Spanish translation and enunciation in my preparation for the concert. Around that time, I met a chap of Spanish-Cuban heritage in a club. He was a performer himself – at that point in time, teaching in a Further Education College. Somehow, we got around to discussing aspects of the work we were doing and decided to do a skills swap.

He had access to a mansion, where he aimed to stage a promenade performance featuring his students. He needed a music director/arranger to work with his students on a new arrangement of Cole Porter’s song – My heart belongs to Daddy. I offered to create a gospel flavoured arrangement to suit the singing skills of the students and coached them for the performance. In exchange, my new friend translated all the texts of the Argentine art songs and Spanish folk songs for me. He also did recordings to help me with enunciation of the words.

I haven’t been in touch with him for probably over ten years now, but the influence of that chance encounter in a club added a whole new dimension to my artistic vocabulary, which has remained with me ever since.