Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra: making great music personal

shop talk

dining on stories (and stories on dining)

March 02, 2012

At last night’s Westside Connections opener, the group of listeners who stayed for the post-concert conversation with special guest Michael Ruhlman, series curator Margaret Batjer and pianist Joanne Pearce-Martin was fairly small, but clearly animated by the combination of two endlessly fascinating subjects: music and food. Maybe it had something to do with the deeply primal nature of these two topics, and certainly with the powerful pleasure both can bring to our lives.

One of the more revealing questions asked of the panel was to describe a significant meal or musical performance they had experienced. Two recalled not just memorable events, but catalyzing ones. Without hesitation, Ruhlman pointed to a dinner at the French Laundry that in a single evening turned him from an eater into a diner. Batjer at first hesitated to nail down just one concert that she had either played or heard, but finally named a performance by Rostropovich she had witnessed at the age of eight, which set her irrevocably on the path to becoming a professional musician. “After that,” she said, “I knew there was no going back.”

In those remarkable moments centered around music or food it’s revealing how often the surrounding circumstances are what fix them so strongly in our hearts and minds. Now, I’d like to turn the question over to you: Tell us about an especially memorable meal or performance you’ve experienced. The first time you treated your parents to dinner at a swanky boite? Front-row center for Yo-Yo Ma or the Stones? Or perhaps even more indelibly embedded on your mental hard drive than Facebook cookie, a truly disastrous event: discovery of a latent shell-fish allergy, or a painfully “pitchy” tenor, maybe.

Ruhlman, though best-known as a food writer, described himself to last night’s Broad Stage audience as a story-teller, declaring that only physical nourishment outranked human-kind’s need for stories. We’re hungry to hear yours.

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