For me, the journey that is Card Table Artifice started some forty years ago. Around 1974, when I was thirteen, Tom Cmajdalka, the older brother of a friend of mine, Rich, introduced me to what could be described at the time as more alternative music. Roxy Music was one of the bands and, through them, the work of Brian Eno. I became – and still am – a huge Brian Eno fan, acquiring most of his recorded work. This included his Obscure albums. And it was through Eno that I first heard the work of Gavin Bryars.
I have always been interested in music. I took piano lessons when I was kid – Stride piano – my music teacher, Mr. Davidson, expressing great pride in being kicked out of the Royal Conservatory in the 1920s for teaching jazz. I later graduated to more classical fare, and the works of J.S. Bach, particularly as interpreted by Glenn Gould – think Goldberg Variations, and the Inventions – became favourites. I still play and am attracted to those same works.
By 1978, I had also discovered Artifice, Ruse and Subterfuge at the Card Table, also known as “The Expert at the Card Table”, or simply “Erdnase”, named after the elusive author, S. W. Erdnase. “Erdnase” and, in particular, the first half of his book categorized as “Card Table Artifice”, published in 1902, would become the basis of this new stage work for Luminato, Card Table Artifice.
Shortly after my father died in 1978, I was introduced to Ross Bertram, one of the great virtuoso sleight-of-hand artists of the 20th century. It would be Ross who educated me about Erdnase, the system and the musicality of magic.
– David Ben