Harmony in a Box – #01-08


“The house performer who had joined us at our table during the performance shook Jamus’s hand in a vigorous and appreciative motion and asked him, “Where did you learn that ending I’ve never heard it before?” Jamus closed his eyes then slowly responded it was a piece by the American composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk. The house performer inquired, “I studied North American composers in the York University Music program and I don’t recall seeing or hearing that piece.” Jamus’s eyes seemed to slightly shift and look into nowhere then came his reply, “Now I remember, it was taught to me from ear by one of his students recently. Usually Gottschalk played “Hail Columbia” and “Yankee Doodle” as a show closer, but when he played in Canada he closed the show with “Allouetta”, and “Camptown Races”, he meant to notate it but never got around to it.” 

“Puzzled but intrigued the performer continued. “The year is presently 2001, Gottschalk lived 1829-1869, even if the student was taking lessons at one year old, which is impossible, the student would be one hundred and thirty years old! Are you sure?” At this point Jamus seemed to get quite agitated and asked him “Are you calling me a liar?”

“No, not at all, just trying to make sense of it. I would be very interested in notating the song, maybe we can get together later and do it. It wouldn’t hurt me academically to stumble onto an unpublished work by Gottschalk.” The performer shook Jamus’s hand again, got up from the table, bade us farewell, and proceeded to the stage, becoming our sonic wallpaper. Saying nothing to each other, the lady doctor and I sat at the table basically openmouthed at the incredible and bizarre scene that had played before our eyes. “I need to lay down.” Jamus insisted rubbing his forehead with his hand. I told Jamus that I had a spare bed in my room. It’s Room 212. I had to get back to the festival set-up soon but he was welcome to use my room in the meantime for some R&R. The room was just down the hall from a couple of guys in my crew. Feeling it might do Jamus some good the couple he was with agreed to my suggestion and said they would check on him later. As I was walking Jamus back to my room he looked at me exhausted and said “It’s all coming back bit by bit. It is like some kind of incredible dream or nightmare, I’m not sure which.” When we got to the room he laid down on one of the double beds. “How long have I been gone?” Jamus asked me. I told him about a year and a half. He mentioned some names that were not familiar to me. I felt his hopelessness of me not being able to help him and the helplessness of not being able to help himself.”

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