Wild salmon and Einstein on the Beach

John is from Hornby Island, an island situated between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia. He came to Toronto to see his ninety-two-year old mother and Einstein on the Beach, an opera by Robert Wilson and Philip Glass premiered in France in 1976. In our bed and breakfast, I am always interested in people who stay here to attend theatre, concerts or other art events. We can easily develop a nice conversation.

John told me he studied classical music. This was not the first time he saw the opera. His understanding and recognition of Glass music hinted me to a higher level of appreciation. Before I knew John, I have liked the music of Philip Glass in my own way. Every time I hear Passages - a music collaboration between Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar my heart dances with the rhythm.

In 1992 while traveling in Europe, I came across the Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt and was caught by his music, which also possesses the minimal, repetitive structures. His most famous piece "Canto Ostinato", a work performed by four pianos was written in 1976 - the same year when Einstein on the Beach was born. Sadly, both Ravi Shankar and Simeon ten Holt died this November and December respectively.

At the end of his stay, John gave me a can of salmon as a gift. He told me that the fish was cooked and canned as soon as it was caught to retain its nutrition and fresh flavour. But I made a mistake. Instead of eating the fish right out of the can, I mixed the salmon with mayonnaise to spread on a sandwich. The fresh taste was killed. Two weeks ago I was surprised when I saw the five cans of salmon given to us by a friend. The products were also from B.C. And of course I was smarter this time. "one two three four, one one two two three four, one one two two three three four four". The numerical repetition from Einstein on the Beach's Knee Plays kept spinning on my head as a piece of wild chunk salmon melted in my mouth.

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