“Neither Here Nor There” – a sunset 4-handed piano performance with Luke Gajdus
Hello my loves.
Here is an offering, a piece of music, a piano prayer, a sunset performance, a moment in time.
It’s called “Neither Here nor There”
Here’s the link to youtube, it just went live:
Of course, if it moves you. I would love you to comment…and share it. I am making this post an open post so you can also just share this patreon post if you wanna.
It’s a strange deep one, this one. A little home movie, far from home, and yet at home.
I would love you to watch it without reading or knowing anything, first. Just take it in.
Then maybe come back and read the story.
For $3 patrons and above – in a moment, we’re going to send you a download of both the video AND send an audio rip of the music as an mp3. Everyone else, if you want a download, you can tier up, and you can find that post here in a second:
A portion of the the funds from this project are being donated to a local flood relief effort run by Māori locals.
If you didn’t see, New Zealand was hit by some horrific floods recently after Cyclone Gabrielle. Here’s a photo from Hawkes Bay, which was my adopted home during the first stretch of the pandemic…
If you want to help, please do so here:
And here’s a bit more information from the relief fund we are sending the money to:
Cyclone Gabrielle has devastated Tairāwhiti communities, leaving many of us isolated from each other, and the outside world.
Along the East Cape, there is only one road in and out, State Highway 35, and that has been ravaged in multiple sites by the cyclone, leaving many communities with no way to access support.
Communications and power infrastructure, which were already fragile to begin with along the coast, have been shut down for numerous communities, leaving them with no contact with the outside world and making welfare checks extremely difficult.
The communities of Tokomaru, Te Puia, Waipiro and Matakāoa are very clear on our needs, and have been requesting support for communications and power infrastructure for some time. Manaaki Matakāoa recently sourced emergency communications equipment for their core team and it has helped our Matakāoa response significantly. We need to replicate this solution for the communities of Tokomaru, Te Puia and Waipiro Bay. We also need to increase responsiveness through a distributive communications network that takes a “stacked” approach to communications during climate emergencies – allowing us multiple ways to access each other at a household, community “cluster”, and larger community level. This strategy will also ensure that power is available in each isolated community so that nobody is left isolated, and without power or communications.
All funds donated will go towards supporting communications and power infrastructure for the Matakāoa, Te Puia, Waipiro, and Tokomaru Akau communities.
The first time I heard Luke play the piano it was a few days before Christmas, in 2021, in Queenstown, Aotearoa New Zealand.
I was far from home, obviously, and feeling the strange far-from-home Christmas melancholy, and wandering around the waterfront with Ash and Neil. We were trying to make it feel normal. It did not feel, for many obvious reasons. Our marriage was over and we were in a foreign country, trying to make the best of it for our kid, and spending Christmas with kindly strangers. (See below).
I turned a corner and heard Luke’s music wafting through the air. I turned a corner in myself.
This piano player was one of my people. I recognized him from his playing, this street performer, this man after my own heart, effusing these gorgeous piano poems into the open air, with a box for loose change and bills at his feet, as passersby alternately ignored him or stood mesmerized.
This GUY. A brother.
I don’t dance often. Certainly not spontaneously for the internet. Never before, and never again.
But I’d been inspired that week by looking at some of the spontaneous dances that my chroeographer friend Coco Karol had been uploading to Instagram, and I felt weirdly moved. So I handed my phone to Neil, and I asked him to hold the phone, and for a few minutes, I danced. It felt like a great release and a great declaration of love for this part of the world.
Luke and I did not speak after that dance. I just danced, and the film was made, and then I left him a tip.
You can see the full video here on instagram
But I finally met Luke a few days after that, while wandering in town again, and I suggested we do another stream, this time PLANNED. He decided it might be nice to have two pianos. Score. So that was I joined him for a four-handed livestream on Instagram, WITH TWO PIANOS!!!
You can watch that live-stream here:
(And just for good measure… when I was back in Queenstown for my visit last month, I streamed a little bit of Luke’s piano-street-performing here….and then I handed my phone to a spontaneous videographer and joined him for another spontaneous duet, streamed here on facebook).
Then – last month while I was back in New Zealand – I invited Luke to come to dinner at Simone’s.
Simone Flight lives atop a mountain-y cliff in-between Glenorchy and Queenstown.
Simone adopted me, like a lost sister, during the pandemic. Her house became a welcoming haven and her whole family took us in for the second Christmas we spent waylaid in New Zealand, in 2021.
She’s become family.
So when I returned to Queenstown this past January for a 3-week visit, I wanted to go visit her, and my other South Island friends.
I didn’t get in touch with Luke, but I had a feeling he’d be there, on the waterfront. I had the feeling I’d just run into him. I did.
And this time, after a little play, I invited him to picnic dinner at Simone’s, a sort of a hello-goodbye picnic Simone offered to host for me since my flight was back to the states that next day.
I’d been crashing at her place, with Ash.
A hilltop. A tent. Everybody was invited.
There were a handful of other people and friends…my Queenstown friends Jane and Trent and their little girl Wren, who’s 5 and has made friends with Ash, and their friends Victoria and Rich and their two kiddos, Simone’s son Benji and his partner. And Scott, who I’d just met at a little camp Ash and Wren had attended, and his partner….and assorted other people from around the Queenstown neighborhood. A motley bunch, and everybody brought a dish and a bottle, and Luke brought his girlfriend and … his piano.
So we set the piano against the sunset, and I handed my iPhone to Ben Farry, Simone’s cousin who’s also a filmmaker, and we decided to make a song, and a little movie.
We had no plan and we gave Ben no direction. Just “Film this”.
Luke asked what the title of the piece should be before we started.
Neither Here Nor There, I said.
Because that is how I felt; and how I still feel.
I didn’t know if we’d ever share it, and I didn’t really think it would make an ideal Patreon offering, but my discussion with patrons the other day about what kind of media was craved at the present moment (long answer short: comforting piano music) led me to believe that this was probably the best thing I could offer the world at the moment.
So here it is.
Ben filmed, you can hear his feet crunching on the ground.There’s been a drought. Simone says the earth has never been drier there.
That’s Bruno, Simone’s dog.
That’s Ash, with the old toy plastic gun he found in the shed, adding some extra pain and gravitas to the wholesomeness of the film, because of course.
When I finally looked at the length of the video, a month later, I nearly laughed out loud: it’s exactly 11:11. I uploaded it to youtube with no edits whatsoever. This is exactly what Ben caught on the phone.
This is life.
This is everything.
This is the shit.
This is why I love patreon so much.
This is art. This counts.
I love you.
Thank you all for making it possible for this to be possible.
Thank you to Luke, and to Ben for filming, and to Simone for hosting, and to my team for helping me pull the clips and audio together.
And to all of you, always. Thank you.
Here are some more photos from the evening…
Oh, this love.
My love for these people.
For this country.
I hope you can understand it.
I hope the music tells the story.
More about Luke:
Luke Gajdus is a pianist and composer. He found the piano as a child at his uncle’s house in a beech forest outside London, which quickly became his refuge. He began to improvise and compose, using the piano to tap into the unconscious, to facilitate calm, to process and reflect on emotions or to change his mood. Experiencing a profound therapeutic effect in creating music guided Luke to eventually obtain a Masters in Music Therapy. In turn, this has deepened his understanding of how music can be used to bring about balance to the mind, body and heart.
Luke’s performances emphasise a state of relaxation and therapy, and have included such events as all night sleepover concerts with Benjamin Gustaffson, putting on an improvised outdoor concert with Amanda Palmer in front of the beautiful mountains of Queenstown and playing pop up concerts around New Zealand in natural spaces.
Recently, Luke has taken his piano to the streets. One day, when the piano was in his van for a video shoot, Luke decided to unload it in public and play some songs. The reaction was overwhelming. Luke saw people becoming emotional and the thought of helping people think about and understand their emotions, to help process them, to reflect, to facilitate calm, to lift their mood or simply make their day better felt so meaningful. Since then, Luke has been performing to thousands on Queenstown’s mountainous lakefront, treating the work as a form of music therapy to whomever needs it. Luke’s debut album, which releases 11th February 2022, In Breath, continues in this vein.
Luke divides his time between London and Queenstown and is both English and Polish. His music has been regularly played on KEXP radio and has been featured on Headphone Commute and Radio New Zealand.
If you’d like to learn more about Luke’s work (and see some of his beautiful piano videos), go to: https://lukegajdus.com/
And his socials:
Filmed live atop Bob’s Cove, Aotearoa New Zealand on January 25th, 2022.
Party Host: Simone Flight
Filmed by: Ben Farry
Song composed/improvised in real-time by Amanda Palmer and Luke Gajdus.
I love you.
Here, and there.
I’ll be back tomorrow with the Althing.
——THE NEVER-ENDING AS ALWAYS———
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