Special St. Nicholas Day concert
HAIKU, Maui, Dec 19, 2010 - This year, celebration of my family "Slava" - St. Nicholas Day - my ancestral Saint Day, is intertwined with my celebration of Beethoven's music. So the concert you are about to hear is my special tribute to both St. Nicholas and Ludwig Van. It is an auspicious concert for a variety of reasons, including that it's my 33rd (33 is a Masters' number, as you may know).
The festivities actually began a few days ago when Elizabeth made for me the Slava bread called "Kolach" before she left for Arizona on Dec 15. As for my part, I got yesterday all other ingredients I would need to make a "Zhito," another traditional dish (dessert-like). You actually have to start preparing it the day before. It takes move then 24 hours for the wheat berries to soak in water before you can actually cook them for a couple of hours.
I also decided to give myself a "baptism" at our favorite little beach in Paia (above). It has been months since I were on a beach. Which is a crime considering that we live on one of the most beautiful ISLANDS in the world.
While in Paia, I also snapped a picture of an aging hippie and a base player in flip-flops stopping the traffic on Hana Hwy (right). It reminded me of that famous Beatles cover picture of the Abbey Rd crossing (see London, Day 3: On the Beatles' Trail, Oct 19).
When I came back home, I went down to business. Music first, food later...
Yesterday afternoon, I recorded a special St. Nicholas Day concert which I made into a 5-minute movie today. As you will hear, the full orchestra and violin soloist joined me. But there is also a piano solo version. You may recall that it was the part two of my "Musical Mystery Story" (Nov 12).
Once again, I faced the same challenges as with that Mozart clarinet concerto I recorded with a full orchestra a few days ago. Different musicians keep different tempos. I tried my best to fit it with that of the violin soloist. But you be the judge. At least I did not have to change the key this time, as with that Mozart concerto.
Anyway, here it is - my special St. Nicholas Day concert...
To learn more about the significance of St. Nicholas and his connection with what today we call Santa Claus, click here.
As for the Slava (Saint Day) food, which as I said came later, take a look at the production of the Zhito cake...
It's all done the old-fashioned way. I used an old cast iron meat grinder [which weighs a ton! :-) - left shot] to process the cooked wheat berries into a paste. And the repeated that with walnuts, too. You can see the three basic ingredients in the middle left picture ready to be mashed together - by hand, of course. And voila! The finished Zhito is in the middle right shot, without the food ornaments.
You can see all Slava ingredients, including the Kolach that Elizabeth had made, in the rightmost shot, just before the consecration ceremony which I performed after I took that pictures. And everything tasted delicious! Wish you were here to taste it... :-)
While I was in town to get the Zhito ingredients, I also got some Christmas branches that added the scent of Christmas, as I remember it as a child, to the home in the tropics (left).
Even though this is supposed to be the rainy part of Maui and the rainy season, we have not have any rain for almost two weeks. Yet it has been in the forecast for the last three days. The closest we came to it was the morning dew, which you can see reflected off our glass table with the crystal globe on top (middle). When I checked the radar map this afternoon, I saw the reason I have had to water all the new plants, trees and flowers I have been planting in the last two weeks. The map looked as if God had been holding an umbrella over the Maui north and east shores (normally the wettest parts of the island).
I am sure He has His reasons. Maybe He thinks I need more cardiovascular exercise lugging two five-gallon watering cans up and down the hills in the gulch. :-)
"Oh well, at least you don't have to shovel it," as my pool man back in Arizona used to say on particularly hot days. He was originally from Michigan.