WHITE TIE, BLUE GRASS
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CRISTOFORI CF-882: WHITE TIE, BLUE GRASS
An unusual succession of events serendipitously coincided to create this CD's theme-the compact disc that was not meant to be.
First, there are the performances that were not meant to be. In 1982, in the middle of an international recording and concertising career, pianist Martin Berkofsky was in a motorcycle accident that left his right arm broken in eight places. He was not expected to be able to play again. As what he regards was nothing short of a miracle, he recovered and, on recovery, decided to dedicate his performing to benefit worthy causes. Thus was born the Cristofori Foundation, for which this is Berkofsky's second fund-raising compact disc.
The occasion for the album was provided when the budget for the $3.5 million addition to house 150 new students at Virginia's Cedar Lee Middle School passed without an auditorium being included. Feeling that one was essential-for school assemblies, school plays, and so the 60-member orchestra had a place to play-Cedar Lee started a community effort to raise the needed funds. The response was dramatic. A local quarry donated the substrate, a local backhoe operator donated his backhoe, a local steel company donated the steel, and a local farmer pledged $50,000 from his soybean crop. Within six months, the project received $500,000-in cash, building materials, and services-toward the estimated $1.3 million needed for the 750-seat auditorium that will serve not only the school but also the entire area as a venue for concerts and theater.
Then there are the recordings that were not meant to be. Shortly after agreeing to perform a fund-raising concert for the arts center, Berkofsky found himself in his attic where he discovered an archivist's nightmare: a cache of hundreds of performance tapes and cassettes he had dragged around the world with him, some for as many as 33 years. The tapes had spent a Copenhagen winter frozen in a warehouse and weeks in an outdoor customs depot baking in one-hundred-degree-plus Turkish sun. They had lived in attics, in basements, in holds of ships and had bumped across the back roads of Turkey in a dump truck. It was, by all appearances, a terminal case.
Undaunted, Berkofsky took the tapes to recording engineer Christian Quick and presented the 25-year old musician with the carnage. At first appalled at the condition of the tapes, Quick was soon excited by the challenge. There was only a cassette, the master having been lost, from a concert at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre in 1986. Even worse, all that remained from the 1994 concert given at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, D.C. was a cassette taken from a videotape! Berkofsky's performance at Kolarcev University in Belgrade in 1987 was an antique-sounding monophonic cassette. The cassette of his 1989 performance of Saint-Saens' "Africa Fantasy" included not only the Lambeth Orchestra but a London double-decker bus which managed to pass by at the most pianissimo moment. On the plus side, there were two studio recordings, one of the great Sonata in B minor of Franz Liszt made in 1986 and the other, made in 1985, of a first recording of a Liszt manuscript which Berkofsky had discovered in a Paris collection. Both of these recordings had been made by Iceland State Radio for a commercial release that never occurred. Finally, because his own digital master had been lost, Quick worked his magic on a cassette of Berkofsky's 1995 concert to raise funds for Fauquier County teacher Karen Walton's heart transplant. At this concert three classical musicians-Berkofsky was joined by violinist Judith Spokes (a master student of Itzhak Perlman) and Oberlin-trained Dr. Mark Head on the double-bass-unstuffed their shirts and put on their straw hats for "The Orange Blossom Special."
Even with all the obstacles that seemed to be trying to make this the album that shouldn't be, it would not have been made at all without the last-minute intervention of Mark Head, who sponsored the album's production under the aegis of the Airlie Concert Series, which he founded in 1985. The Airlie Center was founded in 1960 by Head's father, Dr. Murdock Head, whose mission was to create a non-profit conference center serving non-profit organizations. It was at an Airlie conference that Earth Day was created.
All proceeds from the sale of this album will be donated to the Cedar Lee Performing Arts Center.
CRISTOFORI CF-882, is available directly from:
THE CRISTOFORI FOUNDATION
9206 Rogues Road
Casanova, Virginia 20139-0288
Suggested donation: $15.00 plus $2.75 post and packing ($17.75 total.)
The Cristofori Foundation is a not-for-profit charitable organization as defined by the Internal Revenue Service under section 501(c)(3.) Contributions are tax-deductible.
E-Mail the Cristofori Foundation
9206 Rogues Road
Casanova, Virginia 20139-0288