Art column for May
May 20, 2009 · Updated 4:17 PM
By Trudy D’Armond
For The Courier-Herald
It’s Mother’s Day as I write this. I just sat outside in my robe under my massive lilac tree that's heavy in bloom and drank my tea. It was a quiet, private morning moment. The morning sun was glorious. A hummingbird was not humming but blasting me with scolding bird jargon while I sipped my tea. I guess I had interfered with his morning "sipping." This little fellow had an important agenda and my presence didn’t fit in his plans. Other birds sang their morning songs. I not only drank my tea, but drank in the moment. Sometimes the simplest, uncomplicated moments in life are the very best. The lesson of gratitude is re-taught to me during moments like this morning as I sit and think of my greatest personal creation, my son Bill.
The final show of Stage Door Productions' "Man of La Mancha" was May 2 in the Enumclaw High School auditorium. What continues as a result of this play is the effect it had on its audience and the friendships formed of the cast members. The message of finding the good and beauty in others, to fight for the right without question or pause and to never give up hope was so impressed upon the audience members that the cast was awarded with standing ovations, roses tossed onto the stage and tearful embraces and handshakes in the reception line after the show. I was fortunate to be one of those cast members and I have never experienced such unity and single-mindedness in any production. This play was the ultimate experience in giving and receiving back twofold.
Just five days later I was privileged to attend a concert at Enumclaw High School featuring the Enumclaw High School Concert Choir and Chamber Choir directed by Paul Scott and their guests for the evening performance, the Cascade Foothills Chorale. I came to the concert by myself, but ended up sitting with Grace and Susanne Jones and Karen Estby. None of us have children in this school, but we came to support them just the same as well as hear great choral music. I lean toward the positive other than the negative when I write, but I must say I was disappointed in the size of audience attending this wonderful concert.
There were 50 beautiful students on the stage. As mature and confident as they were, I know as a performer myself there is still that little voice in their heads that says, “Hey, Mom and Dad, Hey, Grandma and Grandpa, look what I can do!” We have an absolute treasure right here under our noses. That would be our students that not only study history, math and science, but also are involved in performing arts. They are our future and hope. Support them by attending their concerts and showing how proud you are of them. Your presence will fill their hearts and motive them even more. They will also remember you made to effort to be there for them. High School concerts cost $2. Such a deal!
The last time Karen Estby and I sang "New York, New York" together, she was in a dancing chorus line of about five women doing a step-kick routine in tights and I was in the chorus singing at the White River Annex Auditorium. Such grand memories!
I don't condone picking or playing favorites in any choir, but I really loved listening to Carson Johnson singing her solo in "Homeward Bound" and Kameron Jacobs singing his solo in "Come Rain or Come Shine." All the students were simply terrific. It takes balance and talent to create a mixed musical genre for a concert and Mr. Scott chose well. The students' diction was superb. I loved the vowel-shaped mouths and the pure sounds coming from them. I saw just five young men in the chamber choir. These five men were absolutely superb! They were spaced evenly between the women. The balance was wonderful. They were true to the enunciation, vowels and animation to interpret each piece they sang. They obviously love to sing and are a precious resource of inspiration and motivation to all of us. The dresses the young women wore were perfect. They were classy, feminine and youthful. All the young women looked stunning and sounded beautiful as did the men. Paul Scott offers his students a great example to admire and emulate.
The concert choir’s A Cappella Overtures, arranged by Andy Beck, not only received warm applause from the attending audience, but also an enthusiastic acknowledgement from the visiting guest performers from the Cascade Foothills Chorale. They, among all others, could appreciate such a complicated piece because they recently did one very similar.
Cascade Foothills Chorale is directed by Jeremy Matheis, who faithfully travels from Seattle each week to direct the four-part chorale of local community members. Looking handsome and smart in their formal concert attire, this organization delivered a medley of songs from "The Sound of Music" as well as full pieces titled "Prairie Lullaby," "A Hint of Autumn," "Snowfall," "Passing of Winter" and "Mountains." It’s the perfect combination of music for those who love the Pacific Northwest and was a sneak preview to their own concert titled "Music in Nature" for 7 p.m. Saturday and a 2:30 p.m. matinee Sunday. You can purchase tickets at the EHS auditorium door for $10. Seniors and student tickets are $5.
The last number sung, directed by Matheis, was "Listen to the Rain" and the 50-student choir joined the CFC on the risers. This compiled a formidable body of vocalists that made the hair stand up on the back of your neck. What a glorious sound! CFC librarian and second soprano Elizabeth Snodgrass led the audience in a percussion accompaniment where sounds made with hands and feet cued by Snodgrass resembled the passage of a thunderstorm. It was totally captivating and I can’t wait to hear it with a larger audience.
The following Saturday I attended another Evenings On The Plateau, sponsored by the city of Enumclaw at the Enumclaw Expo Center fieldhouse. The performance featured The Buckaroosters, a cover band that recreates the wonderful music of the late Buck Owens. The Buckaroosters were created in 1999 by Dave Keenan and Keith Lowe. The next gig for this charismatic band will be in Seattle at The Little Red Hen, 7115 Woodlawn Ave. N.E.
At the fieldhouse they not only played Buck Owens’ most famous "I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail," but many of his early songs before becoming well known on the television variety show "Hee Haw." "Hee Haw’s" 21 years in TV syndication was the record for a U.S. program, until Soul Train surpassed it in 1993.
The Buckaroosters are wonderful instrumentalists and vocalists. For those who enjoy listening to a good peddle steel and missed this show, you missed a superb performance. Before the band was allowed to leave they were brought back for another song due to a continued standing ovation. I clearly see people long for tradition and The Buckaroosters brought back so many wonderful songs and memories. Every performance I’ve attended for Evenings on the Plateau has left me with a warm, fulfilled sense of being totally entertained beyond my expectations.
While listening to these wonderful, old country western songs, I couldn’t help but think of my sister-in-law Dolly Perry who passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. In her youth she actually dated Buck Owens and loved talking about him. As Alzheimer’s gradually took her to another place, the light in her eyes could be brought back by playing Buck Owens' music. I went to this performance with Dolly in mind.
On this Mother’s Day evening, my husband took me to see the newest Star Trek movie. I loved it. It made me think of the wonderful imagination and dreams of adventurers and scientists in the 1960s coming to fruition by daring to go boldly where no man has gone before. With our dreams, creativity, intuition, intelligence and forward thinking we must remember to be as Cervantes describes his hope for mankind through his character Don Quixote in "Man from La Mancha."
“Too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.”
Dare to dream. Dare to create and believe in reaching for the unreachable star.