Home diary: Lubomyr Melnyk live

Published on 24/10/2017 under Blog

My hometown, Ioannina, is full of surprises: a medium-populated, beautiful city, however not the place where you would expect to see too many gigs from acts from abroad. The weather can be rainy most of the year, hence it is often mentioned as the "London of Greece". I love being back home, it brings back memories of when I first started playing guitar - my first ever Epiphone and little 10W Marshall amp are here to this day. So anyway, this time, what was originally a plan for 4 quiet days back home to see my family, turned out to be a life-changing experience.

I have to admit, I did not know of Lubomyr Melnyk before all the promo that was going on with his two (eventually sold-out) shows in Athens. Sadly I could not make it to either of those as I had planned the trip home a long time ago. So when I saw the poster while walking in the streets of Ioannina I thought ok, this is it, I can't believe someone has actually brought this guy HERE! Show was the following day at the Cultural Centre, Sunday 22nd October at 21:00. Of course, I left the tickets until last minute and showed up happily at the venue, ready to pay with my credit card (I only had a tenner left in my bank account) and guess what, they don't accept cards! I was soooo disappointed, the ticket was 15 and there was no time even to at least rush home and maybe kindly get my brother to lend me some cash. As it happens, the guy who promotes the gig is a guy I randomly met earlier that same day in the studio I was rehearsing!! So there he is next to the girl in the box office and I'm offerring to transfer him the money online somehow and get in. He goes like it's fine, I'll put you on the guestlist.. ERMM THANK YOU VERY MUCH?!?!! So I keep thanking him for some time (thank you Antoni), and there I am in the concert room, sat on the red velvet seat and waiting for the show to start.

Lubomyr's performance was just mesmerising. Over the next one and a half hour, I was leaning forward on my chair just to get closer to the music. The show consisted of 3 compositions: Illirion, Butterfly and Windmills. With his soft, charming voice Lubomyr would introduce each song with the story behind it and then magic would fill the room when he played the piano. It was really touching when introducing Butterfly, he presented the full printed score and encouraged pianists in the audience to go to him and discuss it after the show. He said that after dedicating his life to his continuous music technique, he wants his work to be accessible to all players and for them to continue the work now, not later.

His playing was extremely fast, yet at the same time every single note would make you feel happy, in harmony with your surroundings and in love with life. The sustained pedal tones created amazing overtones in the room and at times I felt like I was hearing cello drones. There were even bits where the groove would get funky (like in the middle part of Butterfly). I found myself breathing in time with the music, and it would completely take over my body. Just an amazing feeling!

Windmills was for me the highlight of the evening. Lubomyr went on to say how he wrote this about a windmill that lived in a field with other windmills. It was spinning happily, enjoying itself until one day, it died after being struck by a severe storm. The windmill would then cry as it saw what was left of it dead on the ground, but soon realised that it was fortunate to have experienced all the good things in the world while it was alive. In the same way, he encouraged everyone not to take the world for granted, and absorb the beauty we find in simple things in life. After an intense performance of Windmills, everyone was on their feet clapping non-stop. Lubomyr came back on stage three times, bowing and thanking everyone.

I still cannot believe how one man could make an entire room so ecstatic. A truly epic live performance and a huge inspiration for my future songwriting. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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