Ordinary People/Extraordinary Giving

“With ordinary talents and extraordinary perseverance all things are attainable.”

- Thomas Baxton

I recently attended a gala arts event. It was a fundraiser for a symphony orchestra; or to be more precise, the orchestra’s Education and Outreach program, which strives to enrich the lives of our city’s children through exposure to music.

At least two hundred people dolled themselves up; there were suits and ties, dresses and heels, blue jeans and silk shirts; there were frosty glasses of wine and canapes nearly too pretty to eat. In a corner, dressed in tuxedo blacks, a quintet performed music ranging from serenades to tangos. There were name tags for the artists who had donated their talents and time by transforming old instruments into works of art, and then readily given these art pieces to the orchestra to auction at the fundraiser.

It was a show of one sector of our arts community giving support to another, without an agenda, without question, and with great enthusiasm. The artists stretched their own boundaries and artistic vision by trying new things with new media, and they surprised themselves with their artistic growth.

We all admired the flattened, bowl-shaped french horn, wishing more than one of us might take it home and load it up with crisp, red apples. Who among us didn’t covet the framed art photo of the insides of a hundred-year-old piano, with its lines and curves reminiscent of an Inuit painting? There were seascapes and cherries painted on old violins and cellos, and a brace of crows perched on the panel of an old piano, surrounded by floral collage. A single hand, fashioned from clay, danced across a section of a keyboard, while nearby daylilies grew alongside torn manuscript, the canvas representing the fleetingness of music in time. It was inspiring to see how far the imaginations of the artists reached, given the opportunity to step outside the norm.

And it was inspiring to see how generous these artists were in their gifts; also the guests who didn’t think twice about reaching into their wallets for the orchestra’s Education and Outreach program. The artists were happy to be there, pulled from the solitude of their studios and their work. The musicians were glad of the night out and to thank the artists for their kindness. And the guests were happy to be part of this opportunity to help enrich the lives of children through exposure to music.

Gala? Yes. Stuffy? Hardly.

Extraordinary.

Categories: General.