Monday, November 10, 2014

The Music in "Eli's Heart"

Music and Books       

     While I was writing Eli’s Heart, which is a novel about a piano prodigy born with a complicated and terrible congenital heart defect, I listened to the music I was describing in the book by way of YouTube videos. Last night I had the satisfaction of hearing some of this music performed live by some extraordinarily gifted musicians who live right here in the Poconos.
     Thanks to the generous Pocono Community Theater which is very “local author friendly,” I had a perfect venue for a book reading/signing and a musical program featuring three local artists, Scott Besser, pianist; Chris Souza, violinist; and Kara Snyder, soprano. We all used social media and word of mouth to spread the word about the event and had a surprisingly nice turnout. I’m sure many people came to hear Scott, Chris and Kara. While jazz performers thrive in the eastern Poconos, mainly at the Deer Head Inn and the annual Celebration of the Arts in Delaware Water Gap, local audiences for classical music programs tend to be small.
     All the music performed last night plays an important role in the book. My character Eli Levin meets Krissy Porter when they are young teenagers, and what might have become a romance is abruptly ended by Eli’s concerned mother. I don’t like to call her interfering, because I can understand Ida being protective of her son … what do you do with a child who isn't expected to live past the age of thirty, and has this amazing musical gift? How do you protect that child and try to help him live as good a life as he can, however short it may be?
     Eli and Krissy eventually find their way back to each other and marry when they are college students. They are both challenged with the dual burdens he must deal with daily. Krissy at first doesn’t completely understand what his early death will mean to her, but during the first year of her marriage she comes to an appreciation of what she needs to do in order for Eli’s life to be a happy and fulfilling one.
     It was truly a thrill for me to hear Scott play the difficult and demanding music Eli plays, such as the Rachmaninoff Prelude in G Minor; to hear Scott and Chris play two movements of a violin and piano sonata (Franck Sonata in A Major) which plays an important part in the lives of Eli and violinist Warren Anderson; and to hear Kara sing two selections from the beautiful Schumann song cycle, Frauenliebe und Leben which Krissy and Eli perform together on both their graduating college recitals.
     The music and readings lasted under an hour. The audience was most appreciative of the splendid performances they heard and seemed to enjoy hearing selections from the book. I appreciated their coming to hear our music and it was also nice to sell some books.
     I think I am fortunate indeed to write about music and musicians and to have friends to help me make more people aware of this wealth of beauty, this power in the universe, available to everyone. It may be a serendipity that people coming to a “musical book reading” will be introduced to classical music and perhaps want to hear more of it.

     It’s interesting and a sign of the times in which I live that my “discography” in the back of the book indicates all of the pieces listed are available on YouTube. Eli and Krissy would have no earthly idea what that is … they live in the fifties and sixties. They write letters and make long distance phone calls. 
     Another era.

"Eli's Heart" available on, paperback and Kindle