As much as we like sharing life’s joys with our children, there are some things best savored in the company of adults. Cannabis, for example. Classical music too. We tried a few years ago to take our daughter to a classical guitar concert at the Peabody Institute, and while it wasn’t a total disaster, we did have to exit at intermission.
Live at Hifi
Trust Hifi Farms to understand just what we were hoping to find on a recent date night. This company epitomizes cool – you can ask Esquire – due in large measure to their efforts to marry cannabis cultivation and music culture. They’ve been hosting musicians with their Live at Hifi concert series for two years now, and last week they welcomed Kyle O’Quin of Portugal. The Man for an evening of classical piano music paired with fine cannabis.
Everyone knows pot and rock ‘n roll go together. Less appreciated, perhaps, is the combination of cannabis and classical. Kyle O’Quin, then, was the ideal ambassador, because he wants to make classical music accessible to everybody – and he clearly loves good marijuana.
An unassuming guy in a sweatshirt and baseball cap, O’Quin shared the piano bench with his dog Boo Boo while he played. He rarely does classical shows, he told us, but he’s a remarkable player, and he arranged a beautiful program. “Kyle [gave an] incredible performance,” Hifi’s Lee Henderson, who organized the concert, related. “The guy truly is a world class piano player. I mean, he played a twenty-minute long Beethoven sonata, and used no sheet music. Wow.”
In addition to selecting songs by his favorite composers, O’Quin also curated a cannabis strain list to complement the music. “Music is the best art,” he declared, laughing. “Just like every strand of weed is based off a previous strand, in music we all rip each other off all the time.”
O’Quin paired two Rachmaninoff preludes with the Critical Mass because they both have what he calls a “restrained” quality. The strain’s 1:1 of THC to CBD gives it a restrained high that matches the Russian composer’s style. For a Chopin waltz, he chose Super Lemon Haze from a vaporizer pen. “This is my bread and butter,” he said. “I paired Chopin with Super Lemon Haze and I did that for this reason: [plays a lovely Chopin melody]. You’re like hmmm…. That’s the same reaction people have with this weed. Nobody doesn’t like it.”
Northern Lights, a strong indica in either edible or tincture form, underscored Debussy’s lush, dissonant, and dreamlike composition to round out the first set. The second half of the show consisted entirely of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 8 in C minor (a personal favorite), highlighted with Blue Dream, an award-winning hybrid that reflects the feeling of Beethoven’s playing and the flow of the sonata’s three movements.
The atmosphere in the McCormick Mansion resembled a salon. It was sophisticated but not stuffy, chic but comfortably homey. Buzzing with creative energy and the intensity of connection. Small groups gathered in the kitchen and around the piano, happily chatting, sipping wine and nibbling on cheese and crudité. A spacious wraparound porch beckoned those who wished to consume their (strictly BYOC – Hifi embraces regulatory compliance) cannabis. There was a spellbound feeling to the whole night, the sense that we’d born witness to something exquisite and that, together, we’d carved an important moment into that space.
Henderson summed it up: “Friday’s event exceeded all of our admittedly high expectations. I feel like our guests left with a real sense of beauty, which was just so gratifying…The splendor of the evening was also totally due to the intimacy of the room, the nature of the event itself. Everybody’s sitting on the floor, this huge, beautiful cross-section of Portland folks, celebrating something as unusual yet elemental as a classical piano recital – I mean, it was pretty magical. Especially during this incredibly dispiriting and fraught period of time.”
Evenings like this, that foreground art and bring people together, where cannabis exists in the background and plays the role of subtle enhancement, are a key to normalization. The concert also raised close to $1,500 for My Voice Music, a local nonprofit music education program. “These events are really at the core of what Hifi Farms aims to do: community, beauty, shared experiences, giving back, having an amazing time,” Henderson told us.
Cannabis and music have a deep mystical relationship, and Live at Hifi draws out that harmony to perfection. Plus they gave us a great date night, so we’re eternally grateful.