"I am 3/4ths Canadian, and one 4th New Englander - I had ancestors on both sides in the Revolutionary war." - Elizabeth Bishop

Friday, February 26, 2010

Nova Scotia Connections: North Star

“Miss Grace Boomer and friend Miss Richards and little Elizabeth Bishop all of Boston arrived home the latter part of last week, and are visitors with Miss Boomer’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Boomer. These young ladies were passengers on the ill fated Steamer North Star, which was wrecked on the voyage from Boston to Yarmouth.”

Truro Daily News, 13 August 1919

Imagine my surprise when I read this notice one spring day in 1991 (a little shuffle of those 1s and 9s), sitting at a microfilm reader at the Nova Scotia Archives. Grace was bringing Elizabeth back to Nova Scotia after living in New England for a year and a bit. “The ill fated Steamer North Star”! What was that, I wondered? It didn’t take me long to discover the dramatic story of this Eastern Steamship vessel.

Early on the morning of 8 August 1919, the North Star was making slow progress towards Nova Scotia in a heavy sea and dense fog when it struck Green Island off the coast. Literally, the large vessel slid right onto the rocks, tearing a hole in its hull. It took hours, but all the passengers were taken off (fishing boats from coastal communities enacted the rescue). Amazingly, there was no loss of life and only minor injuries. The North Star was stripped of all that could be remove and left to the elements of the open Atlantic. It eventually broke apart and disappeared.

I was so intrigued by this story and wanted to learn more that I went to the Yarmouth County Museum Archives, a wonderful place of seafaring artifacts, including the magnificent ship’s bell and wheel from the North Star. I got to ring the great bell and see pictures of the steamer with its large solitary funnel stranded and tilted on Green Island. As I talked with the archivist, she remembered that sometime in the late 1970s an elderly woman had come in asking about the ship because she had been one of the children on board. "Yes," she said, "I think the newspaper even came and took her picture." Off she went to locate the file containing that photograph. Elderly woman, late 1970s...could it be? The archivist returned with the file. I opened it. Alas, no, not Elizabeth Bishop, but one of her fellow passengers who nearly 60 years before had also been aboard the "ill fated North Star."

For someone so fascinated with seafaring and shipwrecks (a fascination which came primarily from the marine lore and oral tradition of her mother’s family), it is puzzling that Elizabeth Bishop never directly wrote or spoke about her own shipwreck – and not on just any ship, but one uncannily called North Star. Elizabeth was eight years old when she had this adventure, which certainly did not deter her from travelling on steamers and freighters right up to the end of her life. Indeed, a ship was her preferred mode of transportation. Perhaps there is an echo of the North Star in the title of her first book, North & South.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nova Scotia Connections: Sable Island

How are we connected to any given place, to a moment in time, to an object, to our own lives? One way to demonstrate Elizabeth Bishop’s quiet comprehensiveness is to choose a subject, an image, an idea and go looking for it in her work. Or, when one comes upon a subject in a Bishop poem or story, look for its iterations, its surfacings again and again. When exploring her connections to Nova Scotia, the threads are not only long and enduring (that is, one subject, image, idea can stretch across time and space, perhaps even her whole life); but they are also endlessly proliferative (one subject, image, idea leads to another and another). The big poetic subjects such as love, loss, beauty and mystery abound; but so, too, do details such as clouds, colours, coins and confectionary.

The constellation of connections can be quite astonishing. Take, for example, Sable Island (a complex subject in its own right). It is a veritable galaxy of associations and meanings for Elizabeth Bishop:

Fascinated by islands all her life, Sable Island may have been the first of such geographies she became aware of because her family’s oral tradition held that her great-grandfather Robert Hutchinson was shipwrecked there in September 1866.

Aunt Grace Bulmer Bowers owned a Sable Island horse named Pansy. Bishop met Pansy in 1946 when she visited Grace at Elmcroft, the Bowers’ farm near Great Village.

So fascinated was she by Sable Island that she visited it in August 1951, no easy feat even then. She researched the island at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, read Rev. George Patterson’s Sable Island: Its History and Phenomena, and kept a journal during that visit. She began to write a piece about Sable Island for The New Yorker, which she titled “The Deadly Sandpile.” She never finished it.

In this piece, she likened Sable Island to a large-scale version of the “Indrawn Yes,” a lingual expression common to people in the Maritimes. Decades later this “Yes” found its way into “The Moose,” a poem which was triggered during that 1946 visit to Great Village and dedicated to Aunt Grace.

Just before leaving for Sable Island, she wrote to Robert Lowell that her reasons for going were to see the Ipswich Sparrow (Sable Island is its only nesting site) and the horses, and maybe to write a poem or an article – or, to fulfill her destiny “and get wrecked too.”

She was fascinated by the sea and shipwrecks. Sable Island was known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” and one of the documents she saw at the Public Archives was an amazing map of the island which showed the locations of hundreds of wrecks. She was also fascinated by maps.


I had the great privilege of visiting Sable Island for one day in May 2008, a trip I will never forget. I saw the horses, the sparrows, and walked the eternally shifting sand, perhaps even along some of the paths Elizabeth Bishop walked in 1951. At least I can imagine I did so.

If you want to learn more about Sable Island visit the website for The Green Horse Society (www.greenhorsesociety.com). On Wednesday, 3 March 2010, at 7:00 p.m., the "Sable Island Update, Sixth Annual Public Meeting," will take place at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, N.S. For more information about the program, go to the above website.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A bit of housekeeping

Our tech wizard John, who is responsible for the look and smooth running of this blog, is away for a week. In fact, he is ensconced at the Elizabeth Bishop House for a writing retreat. It leaves me to mind the store, which I will endeavour to do as well as I can. Many people have told me that doing a blog is "so easy" -- and I do understand what they mean. However, my ease with computers and the internet is minimal. That I am able to post at all is due to John's patient tutoring. Just before I drove him up to Great Village, he gave me yet another tutorial: how to change "Today in Bishop." I seem to have grasped that simple task, and John has supplied me with all the material I need for the next week. However, I myself am away later today and tomorrow, so there will be a delay in posting the entry for 22 February. In addition, the finer points of format still escape me. Even though John showed me how to attach an html tag to create justified margins, I've lost it somewhere in my notes and my mind's file drawers. So, for the next week, the blog will not be quite so crisp. I will have yet another tutorial when John returns. I am glad there are no tests! I'm working on a "Nova Scotia Connections" post, so stay tuned for that early next week. We are also expecting our initial "First Encounters" guest posts for early March. So, lots to look forward to as we count down to EB100 in 2011!

Friday, February 19, 2010

FIRST ENCOUNTERS II: But she's a Nova Scotian! by Sandra Barry

For years I have had the immense delight and privilege to meet many people who love Elizabeth Bishop’s art. Almost without exception, they have fascinating stories not only about how they first encountered her work, but also about how it has followed them through their daily and creative lives. Bishop’s art is like that, once her lines and images and rhymes get hold of you, they stick, they become part of the mantra of one’s day. I find myself muttering “looking for something, something, something” or “Everything only connected by ‘and’ and ‘and’” or “awful but cheerful” over and over again. I have often thought that it would be fascinating to collect these “First Encounter” stories – and am delighted that we are beginning that process here. Over the next year or so, we will be inviting artists to recount their own stories about how they first read Bishop.

My first encounter with her occurred in January 1988, in an American Poetry seminar taught by Robert Cockburn at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. The course included only four poets: Robert Lowell, James Wright, James Dickie and Elizabeth Bishop (what a combination!). In all honesty, I’d not heard of any of them, except, vaguely, Lowell. On the first day of class we were asked to chose two poets for our presentations.

I grew up in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, a place where the surname Bishop is incredibly common. My mother’s name was Elizabeth. EB was the only woman on the list. This combination of subliminal factors caused me to choose her instantly. The other poet I chose was James Wright.

The previous year I completed an M.A. in Canadian History at UNB and being a freshly trained historian, the first thing I did was go to the library to find books about Bishop. The first book I pulled off the shelf was The Collected Prose. Standing in the stacks of the Harriet Irving Library I opened the book to the first story, “Primer Class,” about attending the Great Village School in 1916–1917. I attended a similar school when I was in Grade One in 1966–1967 in Paradise, N.S. What I read astounded me. Even though I was two generations younger (she was born the same year as both my grandmothers), our experience in a rural Nova Scotia school was astonishingly similar. Then I began to read her poems. Again and again I encountered things that echoed my own experience growing up in this province. But, even more, this convergence occurred in art that is so brilliantly crafted and genuinely humane that I was both stunned and inspired. From that moment I was hooked on Elizabeth Bishop’s life and art and have been researching and writing about both ever since.

The presentation I gave in the seminar argued that she was not an American but a Nova Scotian! I got an A-. I still have the notes I made on big recipe cards! I can’t remember at all what I said about James Wright.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nova Scotia Connections

My dear Miss Bishop:
I hope you won’t think it an impertinence if I try to tell you how much I have enjoyed your two (latest?) stories in The New Yorker. Not that I shall attempt anything in the way of an appreciation of their aesthetic qualities. My competence in that field is much too amateur to put into words what I feel about the perfection of your writing. I am simply overwhelmed with its loveliness. But as a former Nova Scotian I should like to thank you for the delight you have given me with the absolutely correct Nova Scotianness of your characters, scenes, and incidents. Indeed you bring my past so much alive that you make me feel you have almost lived my youth over again….

[Elizabeth Bishop Papers, Vassar College Special Collections, Series I, 2.15.]

This passage is the opening of a letter written by Victor L.O. Chittick to Elizabeth Bishop on 2 January 1954. It might be one of the first fan letters she ever received. Chittick was born in Hantsport, N.S., but in 1954 he was a professor of literature at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. In December 1953 he read “In the Village” in The New Yorker and wrote to Bishop, who was living in Brazil. Think about the trajectory of this correspondence—New York, Portland, Petrópolis. What brings them all together? Nova Scotia. Chittick and Bishop began a correspondence and the well-known Thomas Chandler Haliburton scholar went on to write what might be the first critical essay about her work, published in The Dalhousie Review in 1955. The title of that essay is “Nomination for Laureateship.” Yes, Chittick put forth Elizabeth Bishop as the “unofficial Poet Laureate of Nova Scotia” (Nova Scotia not having an official position). Even as Bishop had been Poetry Consultant for the Library of Congress in 1949–1950, this “former Nova Scotian” saw instantly the depth of her connection to the province. I wonder if Bishop ever told him that in 1929 her Walnut Hill School classmates had foretold this position in their graduating class prophecy: “Miss Bishop, the poet laureate of Nova Scotia. Walnut Hill has proudly placed her bust in the alcove, while she remains in Nova Scotian seclusion.”


The focus of this blog is the Elizabeth Bishop centenary — a place to find out information about the many activities which will happen in Nova Scotia — and elsewhere. Some of these activities are well into the planning stages, some are only just germinating. Over the next two years we will ask various artists to speak about these projects and their own connections to Bishop. But two years is a lot of days, weeks and months to account for (though sometimes it seems barely any time at all!), even with guest postings by the dozens of wonderful people who will participate. John has his challenge, to which he is admirably rising, with a quote of the day! He will have other germane and delightful things to say, too. Suzie will make offerings especially on the artistic side, as she is deeply involved in the musical events being planned; her vision and creativity in this realm fostering all sorts of wonderful collaborations. I wondered how I could contribute beyond discussing my own involvement in centenary projects. I decided that I will, now and then, write about Bishop’s many “Nova Scotia connections,” details I have discovered in my research about her family and childhood. Whatever we write — along with your welcome comments — will reflect the larger motivations and intentions behind EB100, so in the spirit of Bishop’s interest in “(no detail too small),” I thought our readers would enjoy learning about some of the particulars, and might even be inspired by them.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Origins of an Idea: the theory of centenary

“I’ve been having a wonderful time reading Darwin’s journal on the Beagle – you’d enjoy it too. In 1832 he is saying, ‘Walked to Rio (he lived in Botofogo); the whole day has been disagreeably frittered away in shopping.’ ‘Went to the city to purchase things. Nothing can be more disagreeable than shopping here. From the length of time the Brazilians detain you,’ etc. etc. One wonderful bit about how a Brazilian complained that he couldn’t understand English Law – the rich and respectable had absolutely no advantage over the poor! It reminds me of Lota’s story about a relative, a judge, who used to say, “For my friends, cake! For my enemies, Justice!

[from a letter to Pearl Kazin, February 10, 1953, in One Art. Letters, selected and edited by Robert Giroux. (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1994), p. 255.

I am amazed by John's resourcefulness for finding quotations for "Today in Bishop." Believe it or not, this post was done totally independently of the quotation for February 10. I guess we are all "in sync": me, John, EB and Darwin!!

One of Elizabeth Bishop’s heroes was Charles Darwin. We are just past an important Darwin anniversary. Undoubtedly, EB would have paid attention to the activity marking Darwin’s birth and the publication of The Origin of Species (though she preferred The Voyage of the Beagle). So far in this blog, we have been acknowledging the fact that EB was uncomfortable with birthdays, and would be bemused by all the fuss we are making to celebrate her centenary. However, I for one think that she would somehow come to terms with it, be resigned, and perhaps even a bit in awe of all the wonderful artists who are so enthusiastically taking up this celebration, wanting to be part of it (many of whom you will hear from here over the next year, as we invite these artists to talk about what they are doing and why).

With a nod to Darwin, I want to describe the origins of the idea for celebrating Bishop’s centenary in Nova Scotia – to set out something of the evolution of this process.

I have been reading Elizabeth Bishop’s work since 1988. I have been actively researching and writing about her life and art since 1990. I am a co-founder and past President of the EBSNS. I am a co-owner of her childhood home in Great Village. It is not surprising, given this long-standing connection, that I began thinking early on about Elizabeth Bishop’s centenary. Indeed, I began talking with people about this important anniversary late in 2005. One of the first people I talked with about planning some sort of celebration to mark what we are now calling EB100 was a dear old friend, Fonda Gamble Smyth (Fonda is from Londonderry, very near Great Village). We were roommates at Acadia University eons ago. After having lived in New Zealand for many years, Fonda returned to Nova Scotia. I remember that our several conversations about EB and her centenary were generative and encouraging.

The next person I spoke with was Peggy Walt, who in the early 1990s was involved with the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Culture. She worked for the Director of Culture, Allison Bishop. The Minister of Education and Culture at that time was John MacEachern, who was, coincidentally, a big EB fan. All three were directly involved in helping to create the EBSNS in 1994. When Peggy left government she continued to be deeply involved in arts and cultural activities in Nova Scotia in many capacities, including as a publicist. Peggy had maintained her interest in EB activities in NS, so one day in May 2006 we met to discuss the idea of celebrating EB’s centenary. Peggy was the right person to talk to. When I told her that my dream was to have a Canadian composer set some of EB’s poems to music (something that had been done by a number of American and Brazilian composers), she immediately told me that I must meet her friend and composer Alasdair MacLean, who teaches at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. That meeting took place in February 2007. At that same time, Peggy also introduced Alasdair and me to Bernhard and Shirley Gueller. Bernhard is the deeply respected conductor of Symphony Nova Scotia. Making the connection with Alasdair bore fruit in yet another way. It was through Alasdair that I met Suzie LeBlanc in the spring of 2008. Suzie had discovered Bishop’s work entirely independently during a visit to Great Village in the fall of 2007. When she went to Mount Allison to do some teaching, she and Alasdair discovered their mutual interest in Bishop’s work, and Alasdair immediately arranged for them to come to Halifax to meet me. Since then, Suzie and I have been actively collaborating on planning the Nova Scotia celebrations for EB100.

This basic chronology is something I have wanted to set down for some time. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Fonda and Peggy. Fonda’s initial enthusiasm and encouragement gave me the boost to move forward. It was Peggy, an incredible force for good in the arts community in Nova Scotia, who more or less got the ball rolling. So much of what happens in the arts community in the Maritimes comes from the close connections among artists – one contact generates another, one event leads to another – it is how collaboration is born and fostered here. I think EB would approve of the organic way her centenary celebrations are evolving in Nova Scotia.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Simple Gifts: the fifth annual Elizabeth Bishop birthday party, Halifax, N.S.

On Sunday, 7 February 2010, about thirty-five people gathered at the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia to for the fifth annual Elizabeth Bishop birthday party and Elizabeth Bishop House Artists' Retreat fund-raiser. Elizabeth Bishop's actual birthday is today, 8 February, and thanks to John for getting our "Today" feature up and running. We asked Elizabeth Peirce, one of our dear friends and faithful supporters to write her impressions of the gathering, which I am including below. I and the other nine co-owners of the Elizabeth Bishop House want to express our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all who participated -- eight fantastic readings by eight wonderful readers -- and all who attended. I hope we will get some pictures from the party up soon. Elizabeth speaks to some of the highlights of the gathering, but I want to speak to the bigger picture: these birthday parties have been happening for five years, each year bringing us closer to the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary -- which is the point of this blog -- to spread the word about this important milestone and all the exciting things we will be doing in Nova Scotia in 2011, not only at the Elizabeth Bishop House and in Great Village, but also all around the province. Keep tuned in to learn more.


Elizabeth Bishop is said to have hated birthdays—when you’re 99, you should be entitled to some peace and quiet. Still, I’m glad we well-wishers persisted with a little homemade birthday cheer.

The gifts were of several kinds: the handmade, from EB friends near and far—cards, envelopes, photographs, CDs, needlework, pickles. Some shared their gift of creative costuming: John found the best possible use for a Bishop’s Landing flyer as the centrepiece of his festive coronet, while Roxanne’s amazing jukebox of poems made sure that EB’s own voice was part of the festivities.

Then there was the gift of poetry well read (and sometimes to the clanking accompaniment of the WFNS heating system; said the ever-professional Suzie, “That’s OK. I enjoy percussion duets.”) Hearing Truman read “The Moose” awakened a fierce, visceral pride in EB’s distinctively Nova Scotian roots; I was gently chastised moments later by John’s eloquent reading of “One Art” in Russian, reminded that the great writers finally belong to us all.

Think of it as a friendly gathering rather than a birthday celebration if you prefer, dear EB—a little warmth in a cold month, an afternoon of catching up with old friends and meeting new ones, a chance to be read to (a rare gift in adulthood!). I’m afraid we’ll be doing it all again next year....

Elizabeth Peirce
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Friday, February 5, 2010

FIRST ENCOUNTERS I: Stumbling upon Elizabeth Bishop, by Suzie LeBlanc

My first encounter with Elizabeth Bishop was in Great Village in the fall of 2007. I found myself there because colleagues of mine were giving a concert (presented by Musique Royale) in the Great Village church. Free to roam in the afternoon, while my colleagues rehearsed, I found a small leaflet in the church basement about Elizabeth Bishop and the Elizabeth Bishop house in Great Village. The house was not open that day but I was intrigued by this story and by her photo (she looked like kin or family). I pocketed the leaflet and decided I would find out more about her at a later time. After all, I had just applied for a grant to spend 3 months in Sackville, New-Brunswick, to work in the Mary Mellish Library collection, and surely I could find the time to go to Great Village which is only about one hour away from Sackville.

About a month later, I was rehearsing for a concert at the house of composer Alisdair McLean in Sackville and he mentioned wanting to write music inspired by Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry. I was stunned and thought I should find out more about her since she kept making strange appearances into my life. Alasdair told me that if I wanted to know more about Elizabeth Bishop, I had to meet a woman in Halifax called Sandra Barry who knew everything about Bishop and was an accomplished poet and writer herself.

Another month later, I found myself at the Banff Arts Centre during the Banff/Calgary International Writers Festival : Wordfest. This is one of Canada’s leading literary festivals and I attended a poetry reading event where a friend from New-Brunswick was reading. The same evening I also heard Newfoundland’s Agnes Walsh read some of her own poetry and was very taken by her reading. The next day, I saw Agnes Walsh at lunch at the Banff Centre and I asked if I could sit at her table. In conversation, I mentioned my interest in Elizabeth Bishop and her eyes immediately lit up. She was a big fan of Bishop and did I know that Elizabeth had walked in Newfoundland with a friend in 1932, and had kept a diary of the walk? I had indeed read about this at the library in Sackville and was very excited since I love to walk and had been hiking in Newfoundland not long ago when I was training to walk to the Camino in Spain. I was interested in knowing more about this diary and I was getting very excited about the idea of following Elizabeth’s journey in Newfoundland while reading her poetry, a good way to integrate and inhabit her words. Incidentally, the other course happening in Banff that month was called « Walking and creativity » and I met many people with shared interests in walking and writing.

I eventually met Sandra Barry, with Alasdair MacLean at the Ouro Prêto Cafe in Halifax which, sadly, no longer exists. (Elizabeth Bishop lived in a place called Ouro Prêto in Brazil so meeting there was full of serendipity and charm). Stories and bits of poems flowed from Sandra’s mouth for over an hour and I was mesmerized and impressed by her immense knowledge of Bishop and Bishop’s «œuvre». She told me that she had a copy of the unpublished Newfoundland diary and offered to send me a copy so that I could begin planning my trip. I knew then and there that nothing would stop me going on this journey.

In August 2008, I set out to follow Elizabeth Bishop’s footsteps (day for day 76 years after Elizabeth and her friend began the same journey). I was accompanied by Linda Rae Dornan, a performance artist and documentarist, who had brought her camera in order to document the walk. It immediately became «our» walk!

As Bishop’s poetry was starting to become part of me and my artistic journey, and as I communicated more and more with Sandra on email, I was struck by the fact that Elizabeth’s centenary in 2011 would coincide with my 50th and I had wanted to work on a special project for that year. What also became apparent was that although famous American composers had set Bishop’s words to music, no Canadian composer had done so to date, though her grand-parents were ¾ Canadian and she spent her formative childhood years in Great Village, Nova Scotia. Her writing is filled with references to Great Village and the landscape around it and elsewhere in Nova Scotia and I wanted to commission Canadian composers to set her poetry. With Sandra’s initiatives and ideas for a centenary Festival, and through her work with the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia, the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Festival (EB100) was born.

Coincidentally, it is also Sandra Barry’s 50th anniversary in 2011 and so together, our ages will add up to Elizabeth’s 100.

By Way of Introduction

A plaque on St. James United Church in Great Village, N.S., reads: “Home-made, home-made! But aren’t we all?” The epigraph on Elizabeth Bishop’s gravestone in Hope Cemetery, Worcester, MA, reads: “All the untidy activity continues, / awful but cheerful.” It does not require bronze or granite to fix Elizabeth Bishop’s words in memory. Elizabeth Bishop is one of those rare poets whose work provides aphoristic gems, which we can carry around in our minds and use to help us get through the day or mark significant moments: “The art of losing isn’t hard to master”; “Looking for something, something, something”; “Everything only connected by ‘and’ and ‘and’”; “Somebody loves us all” – and on and on.

One hundred years after her birth, thirty years after her death, Elizabeth Bishop’s art continues to inspire and influence. For the past twenty years, I have had the privilege of witnessing something of this influence as I have met many artists from all over the world, from many disciplines, who came to Nova Scotia in search of the sites and places which influenced Elizabeth Bishop so profoundly, particularly Great Village. My own reading of Bishop’s work has changed my life and affected my art – and many of the artists I have met would accord her an important place in their own development and practice.

As unassuming and reticent as Elizabeth Bishop was in life, the legacy of her art has spread across the globe. The humanity, gentle irony, whimsy and brilliance of her poetry has translated into many languages. The interest in marking her 100th birthday might bemuse Elizabeth Bishop, but it is a genuine and understandable impulse. After all, she herself wrote in “Cirque d’Hiver”: “Well, we have come this far,” so we may as well continue on. I am excited to be involved in the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary blog with my colleagues John Barnstead and Suzie LeBlanc. This blog will help spread the word about the many exciting events and activities planned for 2011 in Nova Scotia and elsewhere.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

John Plant's Setting of Elizabeth Bishop's "Sandpiper"

This performance was part of a concert for the Musique Royale Festival on September 19 at Saint John's Anglican Church in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, entitled "The Shepherd and the Sea". It featured:

SUZIE LEBLANC, soprano, MARK SIMONS, clarinet, and ROBERT KORTGAARD, piano