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Sweet Charity

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Here I am signing a check for 1 million Euros...Well, not really...Actually, it's September 26, 2008, and I'm signing a program for a joint charity concert I gave in Limoux, France. The concert though was quite a success in raising money for the International Rotary Club's Polio Plus Program. It is a program that has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the eradication of polio worldwide, through the vaccination of children. It made me happy to participate in this monumental effort. It was a curious and inspiring coincidence that my step-grandmother, Elizabeth Roboz Einstein, also a biochemist, had met Jonas Salk, who discovered the first successful vaccine against the disease. These links to science and to the chain of minds that sustain its growth take one's spirit back to the dawn of mankind. The practice of science and philosophy is like a mind active for millenia, a concentrated beam of energy stretching through time. Perhaps, that's one of the reasons people are so excited to meet those scientists who, like Jonas Salk, are pivotal in the advancement of civilization. They are beacons of light.

This all sounds kind of manichean digressive, and so let's get back down to earth. Enough about light! Let's get to another important scientific phenomenon: bubbles!

In this case we are interested in tiny bubbles, like those found in Champagne.

What about Limoux? What's that got to do with tiny bubbles? Well, Limoux is a town on the Aude river, in the heart of the Languedoc region of southern France, just about 20 km from Carcassonne, which is about 40 km from the mediterranean coast. Legend has it that it was in the region of Limoux that Dom Perignon or perhaps other equally zealous monks created the first modern sparkling wine from white grapes, predating Champagne. The celebrated local sparkling white wine is called Blanquette, and is made from a mixture of predominantly mauzac grapes. The monks' effervescent wine which is fermented in the bottle - exactly like Champagne - was a favorite with French Kings as well as Russian Czars, who frequently popped their corks. Here are some photos of this elegant wine capital, where our charity concert took place:

Limoux 2008
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An attractive poster was created by the Rotary Club of Limoux for the concert. Also, billed on it are two beautiful and brilliant artists: virtuoso flutist, Indiana Blume, and pianist Naira Yaver. A short notice had appeared in the local news:
Concert Photos
Here you can see me playing a Beethoven Sonata with the fine professional pianist, Naira Yaver, who came to France 15 years ago from her native Armenia, where she trained at the national conservatory. In France, she also continued her studies to receive an additional diploma. She is a refined and cultured artist. We played Beethoven, Bach and Kreisler:
Indiana Blume is a brilliant virtuoso at the upper levels of talent. I enjoyed hearing her play. At just over 20 years of age, she is one of the finest instrumentalists I've heard in recent memory. And, she is a very charming personality as well, born in New York City, educated in Southern France and Paris. She has won numerous prizes and honors:
Following the concert, a photo was taken of the performers, Indiana Blume, Naira Yaver and myself with the Rotary International Sign. The handsome gentleman standing on the right is the past President of the Limoux Rotary, Dr. Pierre Bac, marathon runner, chanteur, and art collector who was instrumental in organizing the event. In the role of impressario, Pierre came up with the idea and found the artists for this charity event. He is one of the most service oriented persons I have ever met, always thinking of others. As I write this, Pierre is in the U.S.A. participating in the New York City Marathon:
I also want to thank the current President of the Rotary Club of Limoux, aerospace systems consultant, aviator and engineer, Christian Bernard. He and Pierre created the event and very successfully sold out the concert, taking care of finding the location and all advertising and logistical support. They are two of the most high-energy people I have ever met - always on the go. Christian Bernard, an urbane globe-trotter, is widely travelled, and knowledgeable about cultures and people worldwide. He knows the USA quite well and speaks excellent English, which made communications even easier. Here's a photo:
… à Votre Santé‚
The concert was sold out to capacity. The event was...shall I say, bubbly. In the back of the room here, under the organ is a reception, featuring the celebrated sparkling Blanquette de Limoux wine. Other rotary members contributed time and energy to the realization of the event: Roger Antech of Antech Limoux, one of the top regional producers of Blanquette and other vintages, helped host the public, providing literally a toast to good health!
Spring 2009 Limoux Benefit Appearance for the Human Rights League of France at Jacques Ruffie High School
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In the spring of 2009 I was again active at a local humantarian event. As a result of the Rotary Concert, I was asked by the President of the League of the Rights of Man of France to give a performance with a short introductory statement at the Lyc‚e Jacques Ruffi‚ in Limoux:

The French news article above shows Cassandra and myself attending one of the two assemblies at which I performed a selection by Bach for solo violin. It went over quite well, especially with the teenage students.

The teachers were very happy and surprised at how popular my appearance had been with the students. The young people enjoyed the classical music. I received favorable feedback from students, teachers and parents alike. I appeared twice, at the end of two back to back assemblies. These included speakers on the misguided rationale of racism from a biological, scientific, and social standpoint in today's world. Speakers included the mayor of Limoux, Jean-Paul Dupr‚, who is also a deputy of the French national assembly in Paris. About 300 people attended the two assemblies, which were reviewed in the newspapers and broadcast by a local radio station.

"La ligue des droits de l'hommes is a historically significant French society for the protection of human rights started in 1898. The event was also in honor of the physician and scientist Jacques Ruffi‚, a celebrated human biologist, geneticist and member of the Academie Francaise. The school had been named after him, a native sun of Limoux.

Here is a second article on the event that appeared in another newspaper:

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And so, we leave Limoux, town of mauzac vines, frothy blanquette, the Aude river's winding path, in a land of mysteries, guarded by Visigoth castles like silver eagles visible on high rocks. Below is a picture from a collage made by Cassandra many years ago in Zürich, Switzerland.

Why is it there? What does it mean?

There is an angel, San Rafael. But, I realize suddenly...why of course...Saint Raphael is the angel of healing, the patron saint of those who practice medicine. He is the symbol of the doctor. And also, he is identified with atonement, the blowing of the horn of truth, the essence of the heart. Our Raphael comes as a cherub.

A silver ray of inspiration touches him. Silver is useful in healing and was prized by Hippocrates for its properties.

There is a ticket. It symbolizes power, authority, entry, passage, and there is money needed. A lion guards the entrance, bravery, justice, the courageous heart - force of arms against harm. It was actually a ticket to a museum, of art.

The needles on red have a double-edged meaning, both danger and pain, and the refinement of technology by which man heals, repairs and creates.

Above the angel's curly head is a round graphic that was a cover for a small package of cream for coffee. Cassandra saved it after drinking coffee in a cafe in Zurich. It is covered with roses. The rose is a symbol of love. White roses for purity, the red for union, and the pink roses for refinement, kindness, gratitude.

Our angel is dreaming. Of what is he dreaming?

How could we know that? Perhaps, we will find out some part of that and I will be able to record it, right here, some time soon...

And now, Monsieur Mozart can go back and relax at number 1. (I'm sure he has more pressing matters to attend to!) I hope you enjoyed the visit and the photos. See you soon, or à Bientôt:
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