Sometimes an evening seems just perfect. The most recent fortuitous occasion where all elements came together in wonderful synchronicity was at the Music in the Mountains Mana Quartet fundraiser Tuesday night.
Even the weather, which brought some much-needed moisture (and a pretty hard hail storm) as guests traveled up to the Glacier Club, cooperated by clearing up to make it so lovely.
Guests were spoiled by the club’s kitchen, which prepared a cornucopia of delicious appetizers. The menu included barbecue pork sliders, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, tuna poke on wonton chips, lettuce wraps with smoked salmon, duck-confit crostini, crab-stuffed mushrooms, Parmesan-pesto crostini and killer Sriracha (Thai hot sauce) chicken wings with herbed buttermilk for dipping. Servers passed the appetizer that’s one of the best in town: stuffed dates wrapped in bacon and grilled. And a wonderful light meze presentation, with fresh vegetables, hummus, tzatziki, olives and freshly baked pita bread, rounded out the offerings.
Of course, nothing can beat the views at the Glacier Club, and the physical design makes buffet lines flow smoothly. Bruce Geiss, director of real estate, wasn’t able to be there, but Lindsay Lubrant, marketing and sales for Glacier Club, was on hand to welcome guests.
The chance to have a chat with lots of music lovers is also a bonus.
The Mana Quartet, four young men on saxophones, was a revelation. Frankly, I didn’t go with a lot of anticipation, because, while I love the sax, four of them, and only saxophones, didn’t sound all that appealing.
Which leads me to my new mantra: I will trust (Artistic Director) Greg Hustis, I will trust Greg Hustis, I will trust Greg Hustis. These young men were wonderful. Hustis and I had a discussion afterward at how all humans struggle with leaving our comfort zones, but the rewards when we do are incalculable.
It seems particularly apt to have this performance this year, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the woodwind that he wanted to sound like brass and be nimble like strings. He patented the sax in 1846, hoping the saxophone would be equally at home in the orchestra and in military bands. It found its home in military bands pretty quickly but has only been composed for in classical works intermittently.
The quartet, whom Hustis called the crème de la crème, was the first saxophone quartet to win in the 63-year history of the Coleman International Chamber Competition. It is made up of Michael Hernandez, soprano sax, Thomas Giles, alto sax, Cole Belt, tenor sax, and Dannel Espinoza, baritone sax.
All four play saxophones built in the first half of the 20th century, which gives them a richer, darker sound, and they put the sound to good use in a performance exploring music from the Americas. They kicked it off with the first piece written for saxophone quartets in our hemisphere, Caryl Florio’s Quartett (Allegro de Concert). It was exquisite proof the sax fits right into the classical music genre.
In the U.S., we seem to have ceded the sax to jazz, a purely American form of music. These young men proved they have the chops to cross genres with a stunning performance of George Gershwin’s Three Preludes. Hernandez’ sax was built in 1927, one year after Gershwin composed the preludes, making for an interesting connection.
Then it was time for a trip to the Southern Hemisphere and Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla’s “Histoire du Tango,” which traces the progression of the tango in three decade increments, starting in 1900 and continuing to 1990.
The evening ended with Philip Glass’ Saxophone Quartet, which they have also performed with orchestras. I am not generally a Glass fan, but with a tour-de-force performance like this, I can see why Glass is considered one of the pre-eminent composers of modern music.
I asked if the altitude, since Glacier Club sits at 7,400 feet, had been a problem for them. Not as much as during their performance in the lobby at the First National Bank of Durango the day before, they said.
I missed the Mana Quartet at the bank, an omission I will always regret. But I hope the festival invites them back because more of you deserve a chance to hear them.
Now, returning to my new mantra of trusting Hustis, I’ve decided to make the trek up to Durango Mountain Resort for the 5:30 p.m. concert Sunday to catch flautist Carol Wincenc. Hustis keeps scoring high marks for bringing in outstanding talent, and it’s time to just go for it.
And don’t forget Family Festivo at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Rotary Park. It’s free, it’s perfect to give children and grandchildren a taste of classical music and they even provide free lunches. Then you can walk down the Animas River Trail to the Powerhouse Science Center, where the Plaza will be free with all kinds of sound and music experiments. (Regular admission applies for the center.)
It’s so easy to talk ourselves out of doing these things, but they’re such a vital part of why we love living in La Plata County.
Wishing not be struck by lightning as they blow out their birthday candles are Brian Shafer, Ken Fusco, Lora Woods, Holly Newby, Gay Robson, Carleen Utterback, Haley Benjamin, Roger King, Margaret Hjermstad, Joan Forry, Charles Williams, Jean Robinett, Kathy Burns, Oscar “Ozzie” Goldman and Bill Donelan.
Special greetings to my colleague John Peel, who celebrated his 8th birthday by watching man walk on the moon for the first time. Now that’s a birthday party.
Band music: Marches, patriotic anthems, Big Band, show tunes, international folk songs and, oh, yeah, jazz, as I continue on a theme. I am honored to have been asked to serve as the mistress of ceremonies for the Southwest Civic Winds concert at 1 p.m. Sunday in Rotary Park. What a perfect way to spend a summer Sunday afternoon – and how reminiscent of the way Durango’s early residents entertained themselves.
I am not planning to wear Victorian garb – thank goodness for freedom from corsets – but I am planning to have a toe-tapping good time and hope you’ll join us. I did a big story on this group in May. It’s made up of talented amateurs from throughout the Four Corners, and it’s hard not to enjoy their performances when they’re having so much fun presenting them. This will be the second performance of the Civic Winds Jazz Big Band Ensemble.
The concert is free, although donations will be gratefully accepted to help cover expenses. And the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4031 will be selling burgers and brats and serving up chips and beverages, so you can make it a picnic, too. They’re planning to fire up the grills at 11:30 a.m.
Water is worth more than its weight in gold in these parts and, despite the recent rains, looks to be becoming ever more dear.
If you look at a map, you will see that every major community in Southwest Colorado has a river or stream near it, every community except Cortez. Irrigation from the Dolores River is what made Cortez possible, and the complicated, complex way that came about is a fascinating tale all its own.
At 1 p.m. today at the Animas Museum, Linda Towle will share the story of how an important part of the original Montezuma Valley Irrigation System, the McElmo Flume, was saved. It was included on the Colorado List of Endangered Places in 2011, so to say the turnaround is dramatic would not be an understatement.
Called a Saturday Seminar, the presentation is free, but the museum operates on a shoestring, so saying thanks by making a small donation would be a gracious gesture.
I’m getting ready to embark on a project I’ve wanted to do for a decade: a complete review of our nonprofit sector in La Plata County. It’s going to be intense – I only have a couple of weeks – and overwhelming, when I hear numbers ranging from 250 to 450 on how many nonprofits exist in our community. Even the low number in the range is substantial.
I’m seeking help from the community, including every nonprofit, to help me pull information together. The goal is to look at the last 10 years for the big ones (budgets of $100,000 or more) to see pre-recession, recession and post-recession trends. On as many more as possible, I hope to get a clear mission statement, the basic numbers of budgets, people served, volunteer hours and staff as well as contact information because our tech guru is going to help me set up an online directory to help residents, donors and volunteers make the perfect match.
Collecting all the 2013 IRS Form 990s is the goal for the smaller philanthropic organizations, which I can pull online, but would take so much time. The hope is to streamline the information gathering process so there’s more time to understand it.
On the people side, I want to know why? The personal satisfaction of volunteering and giving, what it’s like to work with our more fragile neighbors, making giving decisions. We have amazingly generous businesses here, small and large. How do they make their giving decisions? Which companies in town are the most generous?
Finally, the series will check out where nonprofit services may overlap and where there are gaps, as well as analyzing what the future may hold for the sector.
This is about us, our community and how we come together to make a difference, whether it’s here or somewhere half way around the world. Not just nonprofits, but church missions, spaghetti dinners for folks undergoing a tough time, all the different ways we reach out.
This is a blatant plea hoping folks will drop me an email or call with information, thoughts or suggestions in these areas.
(And I’m not supposed to do this, but we’re looking for a name for the series. I don’t have a prize to give away, but ideas are always welcome.)
All my contact information is below.
It’s fresh-squeezed lemonade and picnics for the anniversaries of Tom and Missy Carter and Bruce Harris and Leigh Nielsen.
Here’s how to reach me: email@example.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items.
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