It was one of those chance conversations. Talking to a complete stranger at breakfast in my hotel. But it’s not one I’m likely to forget for a long time.
I never found out his real name, so I’ll just call him Joseph – after the patron saint of his native city in Canada. What had brought Joseph to Krakow? A conference on high energy physics. And me, he asked? Above all the amazing open air concert in the square last night, to welcome Wladislaw Sendecki back to Krakow after 27 years in exile.
Yeah, that free outdoor concert in the square. He’d caught the very end, once the rain had cleared, he told me. It was amazing, he said. It had seemed like music…from ….well…everywhere in the world: India, Ireland, Japan?
Without having had it explained to him, I realised that he’d really got it! He’d twigged intuitively, by listening, exactly what Sendecki was trying to achieve. In Anima Mundi Sendecki was symbolically bringing the music of the world, the music from his travels in exile back to Krakow, back to the city he had left in the early eighties.
Our conversation drifted gently back to High Energy Physics. Joseph told me about the project he was involved in at CERN, working with nearly five hundred specialists in the field from all over the world in a non-hierarchical structure, with the common aim of making a major advance in physics. He told me his group even involved physicists whose countries were at war with each other. But they just got on with it. They all shared the same belief that they were on the threshold of something beyond price. So they all worked together as colleagues.
Amazing, the people one meets…..Joseph had crossed the Atlantic to work where he does now in a major research institute. Sendecki had crossed the River Oder and left Poland in the eighties, when it was still the frontier between East and West, and he now occupies one of the top jazz piano chairs in the world.
It’s good to be reminded that barriers really can be broken down. Minds can be broadened.By jazz. And also by science. By people with enquiring minds. Two people at the top of their respective fields, unlikely ever to meet. Who just happen by pure chance to be in Krakow at the same time.
I leave here tomorrow. This brief visit has been a mind-opener for me. But I do have a couple more gigs to review before I sign off for a short holiday