With all the Star Wars hype that is going on now my mind drifted back to Sunday 10 August, 2014. My mother and I had arrived in Lugano a couple of days earlier and we had that Sunday morning feeling. The weather was overcast and showery, we had “eaten for England” at breakfast, and yet we wanted to go out for a walk. That’s the English for you! However, we were rewarded for our positive attitude by one of the most unexpected experiences I have ever had……
Parco Civico, Lugano’s “Italian/English gardens”, always make for a beautiful stroll. 63,000 square metres of parkland right at the waters’ edge where you will find beautiful oak, lime, plane and maple trees, all typical representatives of the Ticino forests, as well as flowers, art installations, ducks and swans – even the Natural History Museum is there. As if that wasn’t enough to enchant you, they also have regular organized events and activities such ‘Park & Read’ where you can bring or borrow a book and relax in the sunshine (hopefully) on the grass reading for an hour or two. For the kids there is a lovely new playground near the Cassarate river and plenty of space to explore.
By the way, Parco Civico is also known by the name Parco Ciani since the gardens are laid on the land formerly owned by the Ciani brothers who were wealthy Milanese industrialists. So, Parco Civico and Parco Ciani are the same place – please don’t think you are lost!
Back to our Sunday morning walk through the park…… It was starting to rain and we saw a huge tent-like structure amongst the trees. It seemed like a good idea to move towards it in case the heavens really opened. As we got closer we heard the sound of instruments warming up. A little bit of tuning up later and the Star Wars theme was booming out across the park. Our timing was perfect. We just reached the tent when the concert started, and the rain too, for that matter. Standing there for the entire concert we were mesmerized by the orchestra.
50 young musicians and their dynamic conductor held us captive for almost two hours. The vibrations of the music were felt throughout your body and soul. Old people, young people, all kinds of people were relishing this unexpected Sunday morning treat. Clearly some people had gone to the park purposely for this event (they were seated!) but the majority simply dropped in and stood there in awe. Actually, a few times I felt my eyes prick with tears and I know my mother had a similar experience. There is nothing quite as moving as beautiful music, and in the context of Parco Civico, this Star Wars experience would have melted even the hardest of hearts. Yes, even Darth Vader’s.
I have to mention at this point how very gracious (and full of joy!) the conductor was at the end of the concert. It is obvious that he loves his work (or maybe it is his hobby) but he made time to talk to anyone and everyone after the concert. His attitude and willingness to interact with the audience completely dispelled any notion that there is a stuffiness about orchestras and their conductors. Thankfully those days have passed.
Thank you Lugano and thank you Ticino for this wonderful experience!