While traditions add a rich stability and identity to an organization, theres something refreshing when an organization reinvents a tradition. Thats what happened Sunday evening at Music in the Mountains Wine Tasting and Festival Musician Auction at Toh-Atin Gallery.
The tradition parts: Winter, check. Toh-Atin Gallery, check, and thanks to MaryJane Clark and her children, Jackson and Antonia Clark, for their continued generosity on that front. Sale of festival musicians as a fundraiser, check. Good food and good company, check. Calvin and Pat Story as auctioneers, check.
New this year? Stan Crapo of Star Liquors created a wine tasting to go with appetizers from Hot Tomatoes, the new café and caterers on Colorado Highway 3.
On their menu, partners Robynn Moore and Ken Thers included meatballs with a bacon-barbecue glaze; tenderloin crostini with red pepper mayonnaise topped with caramelized onions; asparagus wrapped with Black Forest ham and herb cream cheese; skewers with grilled zucchini, cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella; baked brie with apricot jam and toasted almonds; and spinach and blue cheese-stuffed mushrooms.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Durango Coffee Co. took care of the afters.
A slightly lower ticket price to the party meant attendance went way up, from the standard 60 or 70 people to 100 guests. Lots of new friends and faces came into the Music in the Mountains family.
Another change is that new musicians and packages were available on the auction block. In some cases, an item didnt just include a private performance by some of Music in the Mountains talented musicians, it included food and perhaps a venue as well.
Those who bid on the Whispering Woodwind package, featuring clarinetist Paul Garner and piano accompaniment to be announced, also would enjoy appetizers and wine for as many as 20 guests at the Glacier Club home of new Festival Director Annie Simonsen and her husband, Doug.
Bidding on the Intimate Discussion package featuring horn player and festival Artistic Director Gregory Hustis and violist Barbara Westphal meant getting dinner and wine for 10 guests in the Wine Room at the Glacier Club.
If bidders were more in the mood for a Divine Duo, they could invite as many as 18 of their best friends to a performance by Music in the Mountains Music Director Guillermo Figueroa and his wife, a talented violinist in her own right, Valerie Turner. That performance will include appetizers and wine in the Wine Room at Seasons Rotisserie & Grill.
Woodwind Brilliance featured oboist Erin Hannigan with Skip James on piano and appetizers for 20 by Durangourmet, and Sensational Soloist Chloe Trevors performance will be enhanced by appetizers for 20 by Hot Tomatoes.
As if Dmitri Berlinsky werent breathtaking enough on Nicolo Paganinis own Guarneri del Gesú violin, imagine listening with scrumptious desserts for 25 people by the Yellow Carrot.
Nortons Catering will prepare appetizers for 20 at a performance of the Quintessential Quintet Oleg Sulyga, Aleksandr Snytkin, Dmitry Kustanovich and Marie-Thaïs Levesque Oliver. And one of Music in the Mountains favorite pianists, Aviram Reichert, will be playing after 15 guests nosh on appetizers by Justice Tower.
The Storys also sold a performance by violist Philip Kramp, flutist Sarah Frisof and harpist Anne Eisfeller and another by violinist Carlos Elias and pianist Andrea Arese-Elias.
You may be wondering why Im including the packages. In part, its because all the donors are so generous. And, also in part, because if you know any of the winning bidders, you might want to start trying to cadge an invitation.
One of the other highlights of the evening is the unveiling of this years signature art piece. This years offering is an oil wash by Albert Dreher on turquoise set in silver. Youll see it on the program, brochures and other festival materials all season, and the piece, generously donated by the Clarks, will be sold at Pops Night during this summers festival.
This years party was a little bittersweet. After 11 seasons, Executive Director Susan Lander is stepping down. Shell take a couple of months to unwind before looking for her next challenge, and the big thank-you party will take place then. But on Sunday, there were flowers and gratitude for an extraordinary job well done.
She and Simonsen both said Sunday nights party was easy peasy on their part. Between the work of event chairwomen Jill Ward and Georgann Reitz, Nancy Fisher and the High Notes and staff members Angie Beach and Julie Dunn, all they had to do was show up.
This years Music in the Mountains classical music festival will be held from July 8 through July 29. Tickets will go on sale April 16.
Starting with birthday greetings to those Feb. 29ers, these are some of the folks who are celebrating their birthdays today and in the next few days David Smith, Mark S. Anderson, Robby Hoffman, Ted Holteen, Susan Blue, Margaret Copeland, Ryan Phelps, Bev Sinclair, Sean Franklin, Diann Wylie and Katie Thompson.
As impossible as it seems, March starts Thursday. And one of the great events in March is the American Association of University Womens Book and Author Luncheon.
This years event, which will take place from noon to 2 p.m. March 10, will feature Holli Pfau talking about her book, Pure Gold: Adventure with Six Rescued Golden Retrievers. The book has been a popular seller at Marias Bookshop since its release, with $5 from every copy sold going to the La Plata County Humane Society.
If thats not enough of an enticement, I have it on good authority, also known as luncheon organizing committee chairwoman Barbara Shore, that six working dogs, some in training and some retired guide dogs, and one therapy dog, will be at a table of their own at the event. Now how can you resist that?
This event is invariably a fun time for readers and a chance to catch up with all kinds of friends. This year, its a good petting opportunity, too. Just ask for permission first with working dogs.
The ticket are $30 per person, with half of that a tax-deductible donation for AAUW scholarships for women, both at Fort Lewis College and the national Education Fund. They need to give a count to the caterer by Monday, so get your check, made out to Durango AAUW, mailed to Shore today at P.O. Box 9200, Durango, CO 81302.
Leadership La Platas Class of 2011-2012 learned about local government at its most recent session on Feb. 10. Class organizers Abby Lambert and Raequel Rhodes-Repath put together a day that included discussion and interaction with local government officials.
The day began with a Leadership Journey exercise designed to help class members understand the impact of unintended consequences, led by Angela Atkinson and Tom Mann. Class members gave both positive feedback and constructive criticism to their fellow classmates, helping each other understand what others perceive as their strengths as well as leadership qualities they need to work on improving.
Thats the kind of discussion that can only take place in a group such as LLP, where trust and friendship grow over the course of a year.
After such an intense discussion, the next part provided a lighter counterpoint. The class toured the Durango Public Library with Director Andy White, including a behind-the-scenes look at the processing room, where materials are catalogued and labeled, and the automated processing system, which checks in and sorts materials. (Thats my favorite part.)
They also got to see a classmate in action, when Greg Childress from Durango Fire & Rescue Authority, broke away from the tour to read for DFRAs monthly Fired Up Stories Storytime in the Childrens Library.
After the tour, city of Durango Finance Director Julie Brown explained how the city budget works, including the sources for city funding and how that money is distributed. It was a clear lesson about how important it is to buy locally those sales-tax dollars make all the difference.
Lunch during an LLP session does more than refuel class members, it gives them a chance to process the mornings activities. Then it was time to share what they had learned from their homework assignments.
Each person met with a representative from a local governmental agency, including Bayfield Parks and Recreation, DFRA, the library, Durango Transit, the Ignacio Police Department and the Los Pinos Fire Protection District. They asked questions all of us should wonder about, including: If the government didnt pay for these programs or services, who would? and Who would not having these services directly and indirectly affect?
After a break to play LLP Government Bingo the winner took home a cool $20 in Durango Dollars the group enjoyed a rotating panel discussion, asking about everything from economic issues and image perception to leadership and diversity. The panelists were Chris La May, the town manager of Bayfield; Michelle Olguin from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe; Tiffany Lee Parker, the La Plata County Clerk and Recorder; and Christina Rinderle, the mayor of the city of Durango. Moderator Robin Duffy-Wirth kept the day on track.
Kevin Simonsen only has to remember his anniversary every four years, but then he better make it a doozy for his wife, Denise!
For information about upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.
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