(slideshow at the bottom)
Since my first stolen kiss with an Italian bellhop at the age of 15, I knew cultural exchange was for me.
Ten years later, as an aspiring NY actor moonlighting in the travel business, I’d hop on a plane at a moment’s notice. I loved flexing my cultural muscles, meeting people on trains, trotting out my languages, trying to pass for anything but American.
When these cross-cultural encounters connected to theatre and music, I became rapturous. This happened for the first time when I performed in Russia with a college theatre troupe, entering a world that later provided an opportunity to tour in Italian Theatre for Youth for five years.
I collected masks from many countries, expressing my fascination with theatre, dance and story. Folk music in different languages filled my shelves. I learned a mask dance in Bali, heard the koto in Japan, sat in on a mixing session in Milano.
In the last ten years, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to sing in Italy, France and Thailand. Equally as important as the music have been the chances to befriend the people: to talk and eat and drink together. To understand, even across a conversation fractured by language, that values are held in common, that unity across cultures is possible.
I thirst for these moments. This yearning has manifested in my “magnum opus,” (which I say with a wry smile) Like A Bridge: a live studio concert in seven languages and a documentary — the creation of which involved songwriters and performers from Madagascar and South Africa to Japan, France, Brazil and beyond.
The gift of our middle years is to realize that we do not have forever to do what we want to do. The circle of life continues relentlessly and the loss of dear ones makes me even more determined to connect to those far away who matter much to me.
Thus, seven weeks ago, I embarked on a journey long delayed. An Odyssey, both professional and personal. To not only see those friends and colleagues spread over three countries in Europe, but also to discover new places I had not seen before, to adventure, but no longer in my swashbuckling youthful style, more quietly.
Years of stress built up, I had resolved to SLOW DOWN AND CHEW – and this I did. Not all the news was good with friends. Some were happy, some had conquered problems, some were dealing with them. Some had experienced loss and pain.
But this journey of the heart and mind has refreshed my spirit. And I am so grateful.
If you want to see the story in pictures, including footage of our show in Paris, please enjoy the slideshow, underscored by three selections from the Like A Bridge project:
Scriabin Etude in D# Minor; arranged by Jason Martineau
San Francisco, by Maxime Le Forestier
Beyond the Sea/La Mer by Charles Trenet
In addition to the French vocals, Jason Martineau on piano, Dan Feiszli on bass, Celso Alberti on drums, Ian Dogole on udu (San Francisco) and Dave Miotke on jazz accordion (La Mer).
Singing at a book signing at Villa Veritas, owned by descendants of Dante Alighieri
Singing at the reunion of theatre performers and arts administrators
BRENO AND VALLECAMONICA, ITALY
Reunion with producers of the Festival of the Shaman and the Showman, Nini Giacomelli and Bibi Bertelli, at the Centro Culturale Teatro Camuno
Reunion with Grammy-nominated musician John Serry.
Rehearsal and Performance at the Swan Bar with Sheldon Forrest and Albin Suffys
Exclusive footage of the Paris Gay Pride Parade
Fête de la Musique on June 21
Renowned underground music cave Chez Georges, which featured our CD, Like A Bridge
The new American Musical Theatre Live in Paris
Author and man-about-town Terrance Gelenter
VIENNE JAZZ FESTIVAL, FRANCE
with special thanks to my partner Hamilton Everts
LE QUINTANEL, BLANDAS, FRANCE
Cultural Exchange with theatre company Les Chantiers de L’Inédit and bassist Albin Suffys
Footage of Venice, Milano, Barcelona, Granada, Andalusia, the Burgundy, Beaujolais and Provence regions of France, Arles, Luzern and Zurich, Switzerland, and Tina Turner’s Wedding as seen from the Lake of Zurich. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCymorc3Ukg