Believe it or not, Christmas is a scant three weeks away today, and the time to get in the holiday spirit is now.
With such a late Thanksgiving, the season is compacted, but there are still plenty of Durango traditions to come. For me, two things kick off the holidays: the lighting of the Christmas tree, which happened Friday, and the Durango Choral Society’s “A Traditional Family Christmas Concert,” which will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Fort Lewis College Community Concert Hall.
The event has some traditions of its own. All three choral groups in the society will perform. The Durango Children’s Chorale, under the direction of Amy Barrett, sings songs both secular and religious, with something fun always thrown in.
The Durango Women’s Choir has grown in depth and skill every year under the direction of Linda Mack Berven, and I’ve been hearing talk of some exquisite pieces for this year. And of course, Mack Berven has blended her full 60 adult voices in the Durango Choral Society in some fun and traditional numbers this year.
The return of the Durango Jazz Combo, which wowed last year, surprise guest Santa, singalongs, surprises for the kids, the conducting debut of Episcopalian priest the Rev. Bob Seney, and, to top it off, two pieces from “The Nutcracker Suite” by the Vivace Duo, also known as Mack Berven and Scott Hagler, promise something for everyone.
I always walk out of this concert totally psyched for the holidays.
We have a bad tendency to discount the talent of people we know in the community – “Oh, Joe sings in some chorus,” or “I hear she has a decent voice.” But the Durango Choral Society is a showcase of just how talented the folks who live in our special community are, as they showed in the recent performance of “The Messiah” with the San Juan Symphony. They work hard, not only rehearsing, but with “homework” every week. If you see someone singing gustily in their car, it may not be someone like me who sounds best singing with the radio, but a member of the chorus learning his or her intricate part.
Before and after the concert, as well as during the intermission (from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday), the annual fundraiser for the Durango Children’s Chorale is taking place next door in Jones Hall. Jeanne Bandy, the former president of the choral society board of directors and the organizer of the silent auction, says they have gift items for everyone, including “book lovers, wine aficionados, gift certificates and lots of gift baskets.”
In case you didn’t know, the children’s chorale offers a superb grounding in music theory, singing techniques and teamwork to create sweet harmonies. A highlight of the choral year is their camp in the fall, a full weekend of working with a nationally known choral clinician.
Because the choral society wants every child to have the opportunity to participate, regardless of financial situation, scholarships to the chorale are available, so funding those and the camp are where the silent auction comes in. I scored almost all of my gifts there last year.
That’s another important part of the season for me. Not only do I believe in supporting local businesses, the joy of the holiday season is doubled when my gift money goes to support a favorite cause or two.
Tickets are $15 and $18 for adults and $6 for students and children, and are available at www.durangoconcerts.com, at 247-7657 or at the Durango Welcome Center at the corner of Main Avenue and Eighth Street.
Be prepared to get into the spirit – and don’t forget to check out all the holiday sweaters, which seem to come out of the closet for this concert.
Hoping their birthdays don’t get lost in the holiday season are Ken Leavitt, Harry Jarrell, Luke Tichi, Lauren Biery, Lance Kirk, Bradley Briscoe, Brock Ontiveros, Kiara Hamlin, Pete Kondrat, Linda Mack Berven, Cyrilla Kelby, Adrienne Aronson, Dell Manners, Kyle Branson, Eve Gilmore, Don Cornutt (the big Five-Oh), Alice Robinson, Katie Cunnion, Tonya Wales, Nancy McCaddon, CeCe Sallee, Scott Sohle and Carter House.
It’s been a while since I’ve written about Leadership La Plata, but that only means I’ve been busy, not that the organization isn’t continuing with its important work of training leaders at every level of our community.
Each year, a class is selected from a pool of applicants, with the goal of creating as diverse a group as possible. The program year, which runs from September to May, starts with a weekend retreat in September and continues with one full Friday session a month through the rest of the year.
Sessions are centered on topics such as criminal justice, health and human services and the arts, with the goal of giving participants knowledge of many aspects of the county as well as introducing them to key leaders and decision makers in those areas. The previous year’s class organizes the classes, so they’re not the same from year to year, which makes discussions at alumni events all the more interesting.
On Nov. 8, Bethany Powell and Jack Turner organized the class on government, and they managed to corral a lot of significant players in that segment of the county. Former Durango Mayor Michael Rendon served as the moderator.
Steven Herrera Jr., co-executive officer of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, kicked off the day with a heartfelt account of what it is like serving on a board with family and all the complexities of the intertwined relationships.
La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Lee Parker, fresh off the Nov. 5 Election Day, talked about all of her duties, from registrations – both voter and vehicle – recording property transactions, issuing marriage and civil union licenses and, of course, election administration. Parker is currently the vice president of the Colorado County Clerk Association, so she could also talk about issues from a wider perspective.
Jasper Welch, president and CEO of the National Business Incubation Association, and not coincidentally, a founding father of Leadership La Plata, focused on how one becomes an elected official, also known as campaigning. He included activities such as forming a committee, fundraising, recruiting and inspiring volunteers, and getting the message out. (Welch, a former Durango mayor, also ran for the 6th District Senate seat, so he knows whereof he speaks.)
The morning finished with Durango City Manager Ron LeBlanc, who didn’t talk just about his job, but gave class members a historical overview of municipal government in Colorado.
After a break for lunch and time to process the morning’s speakers, they settled down for Joanne Spina, assistant La Plata County manager, who is an alumna of the Class of 1989-90, the third class ever. (Not the “Anasazi Class,” as the firsties are affectionately called, but close.) She also took on the task of a history lesson, covering not only the history of La Plata County in 1874, but incorporated versus unincorporated areas of the county, home rule versus statutory governance, city versus county issues, elected versus appointed positions ... well, you get the idea of how complicated it all is.
Certified public accountant Pat Barrett, from Tafoya, Barrett and Associates, took on the leadership skills training portion of the class by teaching them how to understand budgets and financial statements. Not only that, he helped them understand how important that understanding is for any entity, not just government but businesses and nonprofits, too. He sent them home with a handbook that was worth the price of admission on its own.
The day ended on a high note as state Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, shared ideas of leadership, the challenges of working across the aisle in today’s divisive climate and a recent leadership training program she had enjoyed at the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania.
I always end my stories about Leadership La Plata with a disclaimer that I was a member of the Class of 1991-92.
To learn more about LLP, visit www.leadershiplaplata.org. You can see how many community leaders are graduates of the program, become more familiar with its structure and history, and even learn how to apply to be a member of the Class of 2014-15.
Celebrating their anniversaries with poinsettias are Anthony and Ani Gannone, Charles and Laura Thames and Robert and Karen Anderson.