Photo by Irene Haupt.

Photo by Irene Haupt.

Tom Putnam on Friday's Claudia Hoca Benefit

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The performing arts. The key word here is performing, and we know what that means more than we know what arts means. So, performing: performers. What would we do without them? Actors, musicians, dancers. (Have I left anyone out? If so, please lengthen the list.) When a performer for any reason stops performing, or is in danger of no longer performing, and that performer is someone we admire, someone we have always looked forward to seeing or hearing, someone we remember with pleasure for having seen or heard, then we feel a loss. Temporary, to be sure, because always there are, to be harsh, replacements—places are taken, faces change. Happily, memory sustains pleasure, and we look back.

I have no idea what Claudia Hoca’s condition is at the moment. I only know she was severely harmed in an automobile accident, and that the concern of her friends and those who admire her without really knowing her must be for her eventual physical recovery and mental and emotional calm. We are selfish to worry if she will play the piano again, so we keep that to ourselves. But we hold out hope that she will play again. We must. And not for the enjoyment that would mean for us, but for her, naturally, for her life as a musician. She has been an important part of our musical life. Anyone who has observed the local (local!) music scene for x number of years (well, forty-plus) can tell you of this or that performance of hers that they recall, that impressed them for its beauty and dedication.

Charles Haupt in introducing the Musical Feast benefit concert for Claudia at the Burchfield Penney, September 27, said two things: he thanked those who by attending were helping to raise money for Claudia’s medical expenses (for she is one of the vulnerable, without medical insurance); and he added that there was a lot more that could be said, but he would let the music say it. (Now that is how a musician thinks.) The program was a gamut of compositional styles (fitting for Claudia); there were solo and small-to-large ensembles; and the musicians who played so well deserve a special kind of thanks. There wasn’t a sour note struck, our ears would not have been tuned to one. We heard very sweet notes, very energetic and fierce notes, complicated notes, fascinating improvisatory notes, notes expertly framed and sounded. The music distracted and lifted us up. The virtuosity and excellence, and the applause, was for Claudia.

—Tom Putnam


Tom Putnam was music critic for the Buffalo Courier-Express.