It’s a love story.
For flute and piano.
And a lesson to us all, sitting quietly on a Sunday afternoon in the Community Presbyterian Church — longing for fairies and the patterns of rain running down a dark windowpane.
Oh, yeah — and raising $1,100 for people whose run of bad luck has left them without enough to eat.
Bach-N-All drew 55 people to listen to lush and playful arrangements of everything from Van Morrison’s “Moondance” to Ravel’s “Ondine,” which were arranged for flute and piano by two women.
Lisa Tan has a master’s degree in botany and spent much of her life as a teacher of science and music.
She also has a master’s degree in piano performance and taught music at the university level before finding her way by odd and circuitous paths to Payson, where her virtuoso piano stylings have knitted together high school musicals and the layered voices of the Payson Choral Society.
Bette Acker has a degree in chemistry and spent much of her life as a scientist. But music ran through her life as well, a counterpoint melody.
She started playing flute in fourth grade, was first chair of both her high school band and orchestra, studied privately at the Settlement Music School and taught flute — all on the side.
When she retired, the music brimmed over — filling her life. She has gifted the music to the community, playing in an Irish folk group, teaching Native American Flute, playing with the Payson Choral Society — and ultimately forming Bach-N-All with Tan.
They each lived their complicated responsible lives — until they could unleash their deep, true love — music.
The love seeped through every note, with Tan’s delighted, effervescent commentary on each song, hasty costume changes and cozy asides to the audience.
Tan hopped up and down to raise and lower the lid of her grand piano. She eventually confided to the audience that she had to close the lid during certain songs so Acker could hear herself play.
Acker confided as an unimportant aside after the concert that she plays in pain. She has arthritis after years of hard use for her delicate fingers — but before a concert takes a shot of steroids in the base of the thumb to stay limber. But, hey, what’s a little pain when you’re in love?
Their joy flooded into the songs, like Maurice Ravel’s “Odine,” a love song to the water nymph who haunts the rain in the darkness. The composition grew from a poem about a mortal’s hopeless love for the water nymph Undine, whose song is meant to lure the listening to her kingdom at the bottom of a lake.
Ravel set out to find an impossible succession of notes that would capture the gleaming, mysterious, magical flow of water. In the process, he created a piece for the piano famous for its difficulty. The splashes and cascades of sound astonish the listener — and ought to have required a steroid shot in every one of Tan’s endless supply of fingers.
And it’s true, the virtuoso hour-long performance proved richly rewarding for the 55 audience members, each urged to appear in black tie. And every penny of the money the listeners donated went to the food bank.
One in four Arizona children live in poverty, in families who scramble to get enough to eat. The pandemic made it worse — with Rim Country’s rich blessing of food banks struggling to fill the need. It’s only gotten tougher — now that all the pandemic social support systems have expired. Evictions are mounting and rents are soaring. So the Community Presbyterian Deacon’s Pantry continues to seek donations and to hand out food at 800 W. Main St. For information, call 928-474-2059 or go to the website at https://www.cpcpayson.org/.
The support for the food bank would have provided reason enough for the concert.
But we got much more, listening to Acker’s soring, fluted joy channeling Bach and Van Morrison, not to mention the playful longing for the “Girl from Ipanema.”
In truth, we watched a love story unfold.
As we ourselves fell in love with life, mysterious and beautiful as rain on a windowpane.