Since Father’s Day, it’s no surprise, I’ve been thinking about my father. He was a symphony conductor and composer; and before he died when I was 23, I enjoyed going to his concerts and waking in the mornings to his piano playing. He instilled in me a love of music – and of animals. My father refused to go to Spain because of bullfights. The only time I ever saw him cry was when Travis shot Old Yeller.
He would have been as thrilled as I at the video I want you to see: “The Catcerto for Nora the Piano Cat,” composed and conducted by Mindaugas Piecaitis, and performed by Lithuania’s Klaipeda Chamber Orchestra and Nora, a gray tabby. In a video shown on a screen above the musicians, she brushes her paws over piano keys in a most elegant manner, and Piecaitis’s composition enhances her soft, lovely notes. Their music woven together is charming. It’s a triumph of spirit.
Nora became interested in music when her person, Betsy Alexander, was giving piano lessons in Philadelphia. While the students played, Nora danced on top of the piano or sat on the bench and watched their fingers. Apparently determined to play herself, in the middle of the night she climbed onto the bench of Alexander’s Yamaha Disklavier and pressed the keys. Nora must have loved the sounds because now she often performs solo. She also plays duets with Alexander’s students – supposedly in the same rhythm and on key.
Cynical people have asked Piecaitis if his “Catcerto” is a joke, and he rightly responds, “Not at all.” With the piece, he says, “I wanted to remind people how unique and unexpected the world around us could be.” I would add how magical it can be, too. You’ll see. My father would have loved earnest musicians creating music with a cat, rescued from a shelter. Enjoy! (And give Nora a few seconds to starts playing.)