HF Field Notes

Barton plays Beethoven to rescued blind elephants
On the occasion of his fiftieth birthday, celebrated British concert pianist
Paul Barton fulfilled his dream of playing for blind elephants abandoned by abusive teak loggers.

As the story goes, according to piano builder, Feurich of Vienna, Barton dragged his piano up the mountain to Elephant World sanctuary, home to the rescued elephants.

Feurich shared Barton’s background story on their website. After studying art at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the talented youngster started his career as a concert pianist. His brilliant performances quickly helped him to the big stage, but claiming the lifestyle wasn’t for him, Barton travelled to Thailand to work as a piano teacher. It was there he met his wife Khwan, also an artist, and decided to call Thailand home. 

In Bangkok, he opened a recording studio, equipped with a FEURICH 218 —Concert I with Pédale Harmonique and began helping pianists the world over to develop their skills. On Youtube, Facebook and Instagram, Paul provides free tutorials and interpretations of virtuoso masterpieces. His international fanbase wait with bated breath for every new video he releases. At Elephant’s World, his performances have shown new possibilities for interacting with animals in very profound and heart-warming ways.

Graciously, Feurich continues to support Paul in his work—even if it means sending a piano technician to the middle of the jungle!


Are seeds the new sourdough?
The quarantine garden has taken off. Noticing the urge to grow food in urbanites during the pandemic, Crowley’s article for Grubstreet sets out to
understand why the urge is sprouting.

Hashtags like #quarantinegarden that are popping up alongside Instagram images of garden beds in Seattle and kitchen herbs in New York and modern UV lighting set ups reign. There are memories of grandmother’s garden. Back then fresh produce was food security. Crowley waits a month for seeds from a backlogged mail–order company, and discovers his ability to grow but a fraction of what he might actually needs on his balcony.

Some Crowley talked to claim gardening gave them meaning and the joy of watching something grow during the lock down. Others, reminisced of immigrant and refugee parents who needed to garden to live and families gardening together. “When I began to consider my own impulse to start gardening again, I wondered if the urge had to do with my maternal grandmother.”

“My gardening right now isn’t going to sustain me,” muses Crowley. “Instead, it lets me focus on something that’s growing but isn’t optimize for efficiency. It doesn’t matter what comes out of it…the real benefit is that it’s a thing that feels nonproductive. Work can feel constant; these plants allow me to tune out the world for a few minutes and also make better pesto.”

“It’s hard to overstate how nice that is.”


The secret culture of Italy’s truffle hunters
Deep in the forests of Piedmont, Italy, a handful of men between 70 and 80
years-young hunt for rare and expensive white Alba truffles. To date, the Alba has resisted all of modern sciences efforts at cultivation and, as such, is a rare culinary obsession. An edible fungus treasured by epicureans for its aromas and flavours, the Alba grows near tree roots and can range in size from that of a small strawberry to that of a good sized apple.

The “Truffle Hunters” are guided by a secret culture and training passed down through generations, as well as by the sacred noses of their cherished and expertly trained dogs. The hunters all live a simple slow life, seemingly straight out of a fairy tale. They make their food and drink by hand, prioritizing in-person connections and shy away from modern conveniences.

As the demand for their truffles increase worldwide, the supply decreases. Climate change, deforestation, light-fingered poachers and the lack of youngsters taking up the mantle takes its toll. The men, however, are holding on to something more valuable than their precious truffles, the secret to a rich and meaningful life.

Filmmakers Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw take us to Northern Italy as we meet the hunters who work independently in an endeavour marked by eccentricity, pride, and competition. Even if you’ve never tasted a truffle, the passion of these experts is irresistible.

Sony Pictures Classics

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