Mother’s music set tone for life

The most beautiful music I have ever encountered in my lifetime cannot be duplicated in an orchestra pit, chamber choir or even by the Metropolitan Opera.

By Trudy D’Armond

For The Courier-Herald

The most beautiful music I have ever encountered in my lifetime cannot be duplicated in an orchestra pit, chamber choir or even by the Metropolitan Opera. These tones I’m referring to are an answer to prayer. The sound fills not only my ears but my whole sense of self, both spiritually and physically. They speak to my very identity and recognition of my mortal self. The “music” I’m listening to is the sound of my 88-year-old mother softly snoring as her tiny body recovers just eight days after having triple bypass surgery. I look at her pale profile through the eyes of a daughter and a photographer. I see the similar high cheek bones, forehead and brow that I claim as my own.

Mother…my Mama…she has been my protector and teacher. It was she who inspired me to draw as a youngster. It was her poetry that made me think I might be able to write the same. It was her courage and devotion while raising four children in difficult circumstances that taught me the art of forgiveness, patience, empathy and determination.

I gaze at my mother as she sleeps and the profound love I feel for her overwhelms me and the tears flow freely. I shed tears of gratitude, remembrance and recognition of coming full circle with my own life.

My first memory is that of my mother’s voice calling my name in a sing-song fashion; Truuu-deeee! I have heard this voice for 57 years and I never tire of it. Ethel Mathews is an extraordinary woman. By the grace of God that guided the skilled hands of her surgeon, I may continue to hear her voice call my name in her sing-song fashion for several more years.

As our lives evolve we are sometimes tugged to grow and learn about places, people or events outside the city limits of Enumclaw. I’ve noticed that when I step out of my circle of familiarity, I find some wonderful, new experiences in the artistic venue. I have asked myself what took me so long? The answer is that I get into a rut. I’m no different than anyone else. I’ve made some pretty silly excuses that kept me in that rut as well.

Now that my mother is recovering from heart surgery, by the grace of God we have managed to hold on to her a bit longer. I feel like celebrating and appreciating everything around me.

I’d like to share with you information about a beautiful Performance Theater that is just 6.5 miles from the center of downtown Enumclaw. Traveling from Enumclaw to Buckley turn left on Mundy Loss Road, then right at the stoplight at 120th St. E. and follow to the dead end where White River High School is located. It’s less than 14 minutes away.

About six years ago I performed on its stage with the Cascade Foothills Chorale. It was a fantastic experience from a performer’s perspective. The acoustics and seating are incredible. There isn’t a bad seat in this facility, plus it has an easily accessible elevator for the elderly or handicapped to take them to a great seat.

I would like to highly endorse this performing arts facility as a wonderful venue to see and hear any type of performance, play or concert.

I was able to get some great information about this awesome structure from Mike Hagadone, WRHS principal; Rick LaBoyne, director of facilities; and Keith Banks, director of human resources and operations.

I asked questions that I thought the average citizen would like to know and I was provided some great information. Here are the answers I was so graciously given by the WRHS administration.

How many seats does the theater have? Actual seating capacity from the building blueprints is 443.

What year was the performing theater built? 2004

What company/architect designed it? Lead architectural firm was Integrus in Seattle.

What made WRHS school decide to go with this design? We visited many sites throughout the Northwest which included many, many sizes. We decided to go with a more intimate setting for several reasons:

1. Cost – We got a lot more quality with the smaller size.

2. We tried to design the building taking into consideration four different meeting locations, one for each class – senior, junior, sophomore, and freshman. Each meeting location needed to hold around 400 students. The theater is one of the meeting locations.

3. We wanted a facility for dramatic presentation, which meant good acoustics. I believe we accomplished that with this facility.

4. We wanted a full fly loft, but wasn’t able to afford that so we settled for a partial fly loft with dressing rooms.

5. The program vision for the high school was to have integrated programs which worked together. We located the wood/metal shop close to the theater (it is directly adjacent to it) so shop classes could become involved with set development.

6. At the time, the theater was pretty high tech including sound components and lighting. If you look above in the theater you’ll see an elaborate set of “cat walks” again trying to provide students with real life productions.

Does it have a variety of amenities for performers and audience members? If so, what might they be?

As mentioned it does have dressing rooms and green rooms.

It has rear access for sets and other large items.

It has a half-fly as well as a pretty sophisticated rope system.

It has wireless microphones if needed; again, the acoustics are really good without having sound assistance.

It has several cat walks.

It has a well designed lighting system.

It has a removable front on the stage. We wanted the flexibility to put a small orchestra/band on the floor in front of the stage. Originally we had wanted an orchestra pit, but the cost was a real surprise ($150,000 additional).

We divided the audience seating into two sections. The front section was designed to hold about 100 students Thank you to Mike Hagadone, Rick LaBoyne and Keith Banks for the great information and warm hospitality toward someone from the other side of the river.

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