It was a cold winter’s night in late January, as a visitor to Sooke I was looking for a store to buy a few groceries. I parked my car and began walking across the square towards the lights.
Reaching me, through the dusk, resonating high and low came the sound of a violin. I stopped to listen. How could such a small instrument have such carrying power, such richness, and versatility?
Drawing closer, I saw a tall, lean man, his smile beaming through the darkness. He was playing a Celtic melody with such energy and enjoyment, foot tapping, his whole body swaying to the rhythm. I searched in my purse for some coins, adding them to the violin case.
The violin was eye-catching, made of smooth, dark curled maple. I stayed; enjoying the moment, his enthusiasm catching, and my foot began tapping in spite of myself!
Just then an older white haired gentleman walked towards us, he walked slowly, listening, he took his wallet out of his pocket and began folding a note and reaching the player he bent down and put the note into the violin case. As he straightened up he said to the violinist, “When I was younger I used to play the violin.” The man stopped playing, he hesitated, thoughtful, trustingly his younger hands held out the violin and bow. The older man’s hands eagerly took them. He felt the curved lines of the violin, as if sensing its strength and weakness and he began to play. The violin changed tune, as with the help of the player each violin sings its own song. It was haunting, soulful, a classical piece, it filled, warmed the spaces deep within the heart.
The younger man was spellbound, and finally he said to the gentleman, “I had better pack up now and leave you to it.” The older man smiled and returned the violin to its owner. He then invited him to play at a venue on Saturday night, the man thanked him but declined explaining he was just passing through Sooke and would not be here then. The older man continued on his way into the store. I went on mine, quietly reflecting on such a poignant moment.
As serendipity would have it, a couple of days later I was dining at a local spot with a friend and picked up an advertising leaflet for the 2014-2015 Concert Season. Sooke has a Philharmonic Orchestra - Wow. Reading the leaflet I saw a picture of a white haired gentleman, it was of Norman Nelson, a man who had studied violin at the Royal College of Music in London, internationally acclaimed. I thought I recognized him, but could this possibly be the same man who had so modestly entertained us the previous evening? What a magical introduction to Sooke.