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Liona Boyd 2-Book Bundle

Liona Boyd 2-Book Bundle

No Remedy for Love / In My Own Key
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In My Own Key

In My Own Key

My Life in Love and Music
also available: eBook
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One summer about ten years ago, I flew into London to record my Persona album. After a long limousine ride from Heathrow airport, I was dropped off in front of a Regency house in Kensington where my producer, Michael Kamen, and his wife were accommodating me for the night. As I looked around, the cockney driver remarked, “Ave you been ’ere before, luv?” I laughed, telling him that I had once lived a stone’s throw from where we were standing, and had spent the first year of my life being pushed in a pram up and down the sidewalks of this same street. The iron balconies, cream-painted walls, and mottled plane trees could have been lifted straight out of my parents’ first photo album. By coincidence, I had returned to the very street where my life had begun. My mother often told the story of how, when I was only a few months old, she was wheeling me along Kensington Park Road when an eccentric, white-haired lady peered through the veil of her hat into my pram to see the “dear little baby.” She stepped back with a startled expression on her face. “Dear Lord above, this child is going to be famous and travel all over the world!” she exclaimed. Years later, my mother, a skeptic in matters of clairvoyance, admitted, “You know, Liona, that old psychic was absolutely right.”
Eileen Hancock, my mother, had been raised in Stoke-on-Trent in the Midlands, but had been drawn to London once she had acquired her teacher’s qualifications in 1945. The long-haired brunette enjoyed the intellectual atmosphere that flourished among her circle of acquaintances from all corners of the world — political science students from India, artists from Africa, and writers from America — who drifted through her emerging consciousness. But it was a blond, blue-eyed youth from northern Spain who stole her heart, wooing her with romantic dreams of travel and family. John Boyd and my mother had both been students in the north of England — he at the Durham University, she at Whitelands College, which was evacuated to Durham during the Second World War. They did not meet, however, until gravitating to the same student club in London: my mother by then an art teacher, my father waiting to pursue further studies after his stint as a Royal Air Force pilot trainee in Oklahoma.
John had been born into an English family that had resided in Spain for several generations and assimilated into the Spanish culture. William and Anita, his parents, were members of the English community centred around the mining industry. To their dismay, their handsome son gave up university studies in geology; weekends spent at the child psychologist A.S. Neill’s progressive boarding school, Summerhill, had stimulated his bohemian spirit and his interest in childhood creativity and emotional development. Postwar London was experiencing a resurgence in the arts, and he and my mother attended concerts, lectures, and galleries, hungrily devouring the delights of life in the cosmopolitan capital. Only one year into their twenties and after a few months of courtship, they were married and settled in a flat on Stanley Crescent, in that same elegant corner of Kensington.
Impatient, even at life’s earliest stages, I was born one month ahead of the anticipated date, on July 11, 1949. As at first my parents could not decide on a name, they called me Popsy. Many years later, it was amusing to read the headline of a music review of my Persona album, “Boyd Becomes Very Popsy!” Eventually, John and Eileen settled on the name Leona, but my paternal grandmother was horrified, as in Spanish it means “lioness” — a name not at all befitting a delicate baby. My mother obligingly changed the spelling to Liona, and a Spanish middle name, Maria, was added to please my grandparents. As she set off to the registry office with my newly invented name, she stepped over a cleaning lady polishing the wooden stairs of the flat and exchanged a few words. “Oh, luvvy, you must call her Carolynne. It’s so pretty for your baby,” the woman insisted. In this rather haphazard way, my name evolved into Liona Maria Carolynne Boyd, leaving my parents happily confident that they had given their first-born plenty of choices.
I spent my first eighteen months teething on dried bananas and scampering barefoot on the grassy lawns of Holland Park and Kensington Gardens. After my sister, Vivien, announced her presence one and a half years later, we moved to Welling, near the outskirts of London, in the county of Kent. The house had billowing bushes of pink roses in the back garden and a cement wading pool where I splashed naked during the hot summer and prattled away to an imaginary playmate called Oku Poku. My parents, indulging my desire for a kitten, brought home Mimi, a tabby who lived with us until my mother’s allergies and his nightly forays with the neighbourhood cats drove them to distraction. To my dismay, he was given away.
Christmases were spent with my grandparents, James and Millie Hancock, in Stoke-on-Trent. The hissing steam engines of Euston Station in central London petrified me almost as much as the black-bear rug on my grandma’s bedroom floor; both recurred with regularity in my childhood nightmares. I remember frosty mornings before the coal fires were lit: steaming bowls of salty porridge, tantalizing cornflake and golden syrup pies, jam tarts, and treats of Turkish delight covered in powdered sugar from my grandpa’s secret store in the drawing-room bureau, where Vivien and I hung around like eager puppy dogs waiting for tidbits.
Each summer, our small family headed off to the empty, flat beaches of Norfolk, on the east coast facing the North Sea, to erect canvas tents among pine-treed sand dunes. My father knocked together rough tables and chairs out of gnarled logs after first filling his rucksack with pine needles to make a long cushion on which we sat and watched in admiration. I amused myself for hours catching sea crabs or gathering the prettiest shells from the beach. Once, my little sister and I, blissfully occupied constructing a sandcastle, failed to notice that, as the afternoon tide edged around us, we were on an ever-diminishing sandbank. To my horror, Vivien’s beach shoes began to float away along the channel! My father, who had been sunbathing a short distance away, came rushing to carry his two panic-stricken daughters to safety. The sea barely rose above our ankles, but that image of eddying waters has remained with me ever since. Whenever I am particularly tense, the night before an important trip or a critical performance, I dream of ominous dark waves creeping up the beach. There is no way to ever outrun those insidious tides of my nightmares.

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No Remedy for Love

I am seated at one of the outdoor tables in the Caffè Florian at dusk in Venice’s famed San Marco Square. The pigeons are still on their mission to search for fallen breadcrumbs, and a small orchestra, with its accordion, violin, bass, and clarinet soloists, has been serenading Florian’s customers with soulful renditions of the theme from Cinema Paradiso and a lively “Allegro” by Antonio Vivaldi.
It seems as though every piece is taking me back in time to a still-fresh memory from my life of travel and music. The musicians start to play Marcello’s “Adagio,” the same beautiful melody I had recorded in 1979 in London with the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, years before he had been knighted. I remember carefully writing out the score and making sure I had wound some well-worn bass strings onto my Ramírez guitar so that my fingers would not make too many squeaks while changing fretboard positions. It seems a lifetime ago.
Now the orchestra breaks into Armando Manzanero’s “Ésta Tarde Ví Llover,” and I am back in my beloved San Miguel de Allende, slow dancing with my Mexican teenage boyfriends, in the late sixties. Édith Piaf ’s “La Vie en Rose” instantly evokes my penniless student years in Paris; then “Someday My Prince Will Come” leads my mind to wander to the studio sessions in Nashville when I recorded an instrumental version of that song with the legendary country guitarist Chet Atkins. Would my own prince ever come, I wondered, or am I now destined to navigate life’s journey on my own?
It is July, and I have chosen to come to the most romantic of all cities as a birthday treat to myself. Strangely, I do not miss having a companion this particular week and am happy simply living out of one small carry-on tote in my little hotel on a narrow street called Calle degli Specchieri. I have a ticket tomorrow to the famed opera house La Fenice, where I am going to hear a Beethoven symphony, and this morning, after the clanging seven a.m. bells from San Marco’s cathedral awakened me, I called in at the famous open-air market where I touched a velvety octopus and bought a kilo of wild strawberries.
I spent yesterday exploring the Giudecca, having been transported over the blue waters to the island by the Cipriani Hotel’s private launch that I breezed onto as though I were one of their guests. Once moored at the dock, I accepted the outstretched hand offered by a handsome Italian attendant, made my way along the pathway, and settled into the cushiony softness of a couch overlooking the bay, where I was soon sipping a delectable fresh peach cocktail. Later I made sure that one of the ripe peaches, growing in their private orchard, somehow found its way into my handbag. Ah, I had not really changed since 1972 when, along with a fellow student of Maestro Alexandre Lagoya, I had taken the overnight train to this magical city and mischievously swept into our knapsack an orange from a distracted merchant. Was I still that same girl, bubbling with wanderlust and ambition that had taken me around the world? How had I survived all my international adventures, my gypsy lifestyle, my trail of broken hearts, and my recent roller coaster years struggling to reinvent my career?
Today I had lunch in the Hotel Rialto, where thirty years ago my mother and I had stayed after a Mediterranean cruise aboard the Royal Viking Sky, on which I had given a concert. Even though we had no hotel reservations anywhere, I had promised her a couple of nights in Venice and a gondola ride. Luckily, Fortune smiled upon us that evening. Today the hotel café was jammed with tourists, but a young family from Pamplona offered me a seat at their table and, after we started chatting in Spanish, brought me over a caffè macchiato for which they refused to let me pay — ah, Europe, and the spontaneous generosity of random strangers that I well remembered from my youth.
After lunch, I strolled by the Hotel Danieli, where in the nineties I had stayed with my parents before we boarded the Seabourn Pride cruise ship that took us to Istanbul and the Black Sea. At dusk I called in for a drink in Harry’s Bar, that renowned watering hole of the international set where I had once chatted with the famous Colombian artist, Fernando Botero. As evening cast its long shadows along the canals, I passed the bobbing wooden gondolas and took a leisurely stroll along the seafront.
What had lured me back to Venice? Why did I keep returning to this special city? “Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go,” Truman Capote once wrote. Yes, for me Venice had always been a visual and sensual feast, but much like my beloved San Miguel de Allende it was also a familiar place where I felt safe wandering around on my own.
I thought back to the three crazy days in 1998 when I had flown here with my Hungarian videographer, Adam Soch, so he could film me playing Vivaldi’s “Allegro” and Albinoni’s haunting “Adagio.” We were seeking an unusual image for a scene, and in a moment of artistic inspiration I had purchased an inexpensive guitar to float in the Grand Canal. This we did, to the consternation of my fans, who had been horrified to see a fragile classical guitar drifting out to sea. They believed I had tossed one of my instruments along with my music scores into the waves! After fishing it out of the water and drying it off, Adam and I had donated the guitar to a local music school, which had gratefully accepted our gift.
Yesterday Ludovico de Luigi, one of Italy’s most renowned painters and bronze sculptors, someone I had met years ago with my former husband, had invited me into his chaotic, dusty art studio, a place where Tomaso Albinoni had once lived. He later walked with me over the bridge to Campo San Barnaba and the candle-scented church in which the composer of one of my favourite pieces of music was buried.
Venice had been home to so many timeless composers, from Albinoni to Marcello, from Cimarosa to Rossini, and of course to Antonio Vivaldi, who had founded a music school for orphaned girls. How connected I had always felt to this city’s rich musical past.
The Caffè Florian orchestra was now paying homage to Ennio Morricone, one of Italy’s greatest film composers, whose score to The Mission had inspired “Concerto of the Andes,” which I had commissioned from the talented Québécois composer Richard Fortin, who for a decade had been my musical assistant. After that came Bacalov’s magical theme to Il Postino, a film about the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who in 1973 had drawn a little flower in my poetry book and whose cliffside house in Isla Negra I had later visited.
This was followed by Carlos Gardel’s “El Dia que me Quieras,” an Argentinian classic to which I had often danced tango in Miami and once in Buenos Aires. “The Girl from Ipanema” could not help but remind me of my steamy afternoon spent on Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro and the previous unforgettable day when my concert hall had caught on fire!
My Rio memories fade as the orchestra begins to play “La Paloma.” The melodic strains take me back to my rendering of that beautiful song, which I played in Ottawa for the President of Mexico, José López Portillo, who waxed poetic that he had “not been listening to the hands of a guitarist, but the wings of an angel.”
Today a mish-mash of tourists sit drinking aperitifs or having dinner. Visitors have been coming here since 1720, when Caffè Florian first opened. Over the centuries the world’s literati, painters, sculptors, and sightseers have flocked to this particular café in the huge square that Napoleon had called “the world’s greatest living room.” Nijinsky and Diaghilev had lingered here, savouring pastries while observing the Italian officers who paraded past, their black capes catching the breeze. Casanova used to frequent the café in search of beautiful women while Goethe, Marcel Proust, Lord Byron, and Charles Dickens had come to the café to sip coffee, exchange gossip, read the morning papers, and admire the Venetian signorinas.

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The Band Teacher's Percussion Guide

The Band Teacher's Percussion Guide

Insights into Playing and Teaching Percussion
also available: Paperback
tagged : percussion
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