I was recently again asked to speak about my friend Toller Cranston, at the Michael Hoppe concert (I will upload the video soon). I actually wrote a speech for this occasion. In case anyone is interested in who Toller was, here are some excerpts from my speech:
I believe that if street kids get into making art, they will find a better way of dealing with their stress and their problems. Right now I see a lot of kids on the streets sniffing glue and turning to drugs. It’s very sad to see young people destroying themselves in this way, and I think the situation for some of them is quite desperate. These kids have no outlet for their emotions and no vision for their future. Making art is something that can help them in both of those areas. Painting can help them relax and visualize the possibilities for their future.
Back in 2008, I was one of the founders of the first “Healing and Counseling Through Art” program in Canada. I have seen with my own eyes and experienced first hand the healing power of making art. Through art education, kids can be shown a different perspective, and their minds can be opened to other possibilities for their future.
Just over a year ago, the late Toller Cranston worked with the foundation, inviting over 30 children to his studio to paint. He also worked on a mural with the kids, which can now be seen at a school near the Fabrica Aurora.
This special concert is dedicated to Toller Cranston, who was a friend of mine, a friend of Michael’s, and a friend of the Children’s Art Foundation. Toller was a big proponent of education, and was an educator himself.
He coached several gold medal winning Olympic skaters, and helped dozens of artists reach their fullest potential. He was a true patron of the arts, a collector and supporter of many local artists and artisans.
Toller was also big fan of Michael Hoppe’s music. He listened to some of Michael’s CDs on repeat, over and over while painting. Sometimes, he even asked me to stand in silence while we listened to Michael’s music playing on the stereo.
My memories of Toller are very fond. He had a big heart and was a major source of inspiration to me. Only a few hours before he died, he visited me in my studio and told me,
“I think that you will look back at your time in San Miguel, and consider it to be one of the most beautiful and magical periods of your life.”
He was right, and I wanted to tell him that he was playing a big part in making my time in San Miguel magical and memorable, but before I could say anything, he rushed out the door. I shouted “see you tomorrow”, but for Toller, tomorrow never came. And although he is gone and we miss him terribly, I believe he will be with us tonight in spirit, enjoying the music, especially the new composition Michael wrote especially for him.
Now, I am honored and proud to present my good friend, Michael Hoppe. Just like Toller Cranston, Michael is one of those special people who make San Miguel such a wonderful and magical place to be in. When you listen to Michael play, you can feel the music touch your heart.
About thirty years ago, Michael left a stable job as the head of the A&R department at Polygram Records to pursue his dream of writing his own music. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but he had faith, and since then, he has published over 30 cd’s and has played in massive concert halls all over the world. This is his first concert in San Miguel de Allende.