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Tonight, I went to a concert in celebration of Clemens Leske Snr + his wife, Beryl Kimber, and the work they have done for the Elder Conservatorium and University of Adelaide.
The coldest night of the year in Adelaide, in complete and utter contrast to the glowing warmth in Elder Hall.
A true celebration; an out-pouring of appreciation and love that could only be inspired by two very special people.
Elder Hall was filled to the brim with past students, friends and colleagues who had been deeply affected by these two exceptional people, for their contribution to music performance, to music education, and for all that they were as individuals.
I watched as people around me reacted to the pieces, the photos, the music, the memories, drawn back into some tiny, profound recollection brought back into full force and life by tonight.
I listened to every possible colour and emotion come into being in the very air of that hall; the same hall that had contained so much angst and fear from my university years, now changed forever by my own teaching, my own performances, the performances of my choirs and ensembles, and by moments like tonight.
Some part of that dormant hope, joy, and complete faith in music has burst into life through my own classroom teaching, made beautiful by the passage of time and learning through my students. Some impossible boundary has been crossed, some extraordinary sense of healing has taken place…each part of my teaching self built has been a part of my self regained in joy and completeness.
In teaching, I have become myself; in becoming myself, I have come to life.
There were some funny moments…
Lucinda Collins had to sit through a performance by Stephen Whittington.
That will remain one of the most awesome blips of karmic humour I will ever know.
But she also helped the fragile and beautiful Clemens to his feet when he wished to join Beryl to thank everyone who came tonight. I am 11 years beyond university, and creating a teaching momentum all my own, but that tiny moment of grace will also embed itself irrevocably in my heart, also.
And perhaps, one day, will flower into new grace.
But the tears began when I watched the fragile body of Clemens Leske Snr, lifted by grace, held by time, move as he made his way to the stage. Step by step, breath by breath, he moved with unerring humility and a different time to the rest of the world to join his wife on stage. And he thanked us…in a voice that I will never forget. The voice that guided me through my lessons when I was a teenager; so impressionable, so outwardly tough and inwardly unformed and vulnerable.
He was the teacher I had for the least amount of time. But he was the teacher who made the greatest impact. Through love, through compassion, through calmness and understanding, he lifted up my teenage heart into something polished and beautiful. He saw in me what I could not see, and found the spirit in me.
Nurtured through excellence, inspired through complete love for music; here was the reason he made the greatest impact:
He was the ONLY piano lecturer at university level that I learnt from to make me feel seen, valued and acknowledged; for all that I was at that exact moment in time.
I cried when I could not have him as my university piano lecturer because that’s what policy dictated. I celebrate the legacy of deep love of music he has given me now, in every lesson I teach, every day I am in the classroom.
It is clear to me that his voice, his teachings, his love of music, his care, his compassion, his quiet joy, and his integrity, are embedded in my own teaching. His spirit gives voice to what I do, whether I am aware of it or not.
Tonight, I am…overwhelmingly.
For that legacy, I am so joyful!
Seeing Clemens Leske Junior rake THE STEINWAY in a foot-stomping, no-bars-hold boogie-woogie; a rollicking addendum to the night that all of a sudden made us see the unruly, rebellious teenager he must have been; with a pure, complete, and raw love for his playing.
And then, this young man stood, mid-adulthood, against all the whoops, cheers and stamps of appreciation from the audience, and acknowledged his beautiful parents with complete sincerity and love.
What a lovely letter with all those gracious, appreciative thank yous. It was always a pleasure to teach you, so talented, artistic, cooperative, hardworking, and interested. I shall watch your career develop in the years ahead and wish you all success and happiness in your chosen work and in your life.
Best wishes, Annie.
It remains one of the most treasured things I own.