Sunday, July 13, 2008

Central City Opera Weekend 2008

Our annual Central City Opera Weekend is coming up at the end of this week, and yet I still have not published any pictures from last year's event. As we look forward to this weekend, here are a few pictures from 2008. The 2007 trip was documented here.

Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story was a big hit and came off splendidly on the Central City Opera House stage.

Arriving at the Chase Creek Inn Bed & Breakfast in Blackhawk, Colorado.

The operas performed in Central City in 2008 were all in English.

The front of the Opera House

Three lovely ladies in the garden outside the Opera House.

Inside the Opera House

The Chase Creek Inn B&B

Rich and Kim return from a nice walk around the neighborhood of the Chase Creek Inn B&B.

This beautiful fountain was built recently at the end of the street of the Bed & Breakfast.

The Central City Opera House Association specializes in performing American opera. Susannah was a fine example of that genre.

Former Weekend

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A is for Amateur

Amateur is often used in a negative context in English—a rank amateur, an amateurish production. Yet from the etymology, amateurs love what they do. From Latin amator (lover) through French amateur (lover) to English, ultimately from Latin amare (to love), the amateur is not remunerated for what she does, but does it out of love, a devotee.

Although the word professional is often used to signify an expert and amateur a dilettante, a tyro, many amateurs have achieved great heights in their loved avocations. Bobby Jones, for example, was one of the greatest golfers of all time yet never played professionally. At one time Olympic athletes were all amateurs, but their level of expertise is world class.

Speaking of amateurs who are world class, Longmont, Colorado, boasts one of the top amateur symphony orchestras in the country. The Longmont Symphony Orchestra performs throughout the year, including the annual Fireworks Display at Thornton (see my Independence Day post below).

Our friend, Deb, plays viola for the Longmont Symphony Orchestra, for the Razumovsky String Quartet, and for the MahlerFest orchestra. She gives private lessons and teaches music appreciation and theory at the University of Colorado. She shares the richness of music with the community in innumerable ways. It was in her Music Appreciation class in 1999 that I was introduced to opera, and my wife and I have been hooked on opera ever since. I did a post on our annual Central City Opera House summer festival trip last year here.

Orig: 7/8/08

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day, July 4th, 2008

The sights and sounds, the music and pageantry of the celebration of the birth of my country never fails to bring tears to my eyes. When I ponder the blessings we have received "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence," as the writers of the Declaration of Independence put it; when I meditate on the privileges and advantages my family has received in our lives; when I think of my fellow Americans, who share this bounteous prosperity; I am choked up with gratitude and the thought that I did very little to earn these advantages. I was born in this country—born to a life of privilege—not exactly a meritorious act of volition.
Every year, we attend the Thornton festivities, which start with a concert by the Longmont Symphony Orchestra playing popular and patriotic music. (Of course, they always end this most American of concert celebrations with the music of a Russian, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture!) This year, there was also a spectacular performance by sky divers, gliding into the midst of the huge crowd at dark. Thornton also hosted the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall. The official site and photos are here. Pam took some "phantastic" photos of the wall, the fireworks, the sky divers, and the family, which you can see here.

Every year, the Longmont Symphony Orchestra plays a medley of the armed forces songs. When Anchors Aweigh is played I stand up for my 25 years of Navy service. It is always a humbling experience to stand and be thanked by your fellow citizens. It was especially so this year as I was sitting next to a young man who put his life on the line in Iraq and thankfully returned home safely to tell about it. I was also reminded of the tens of thousands of my fellow Americans whose names on the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall signified their ultimate sacrifice during their service. And as the fireworks overhead reminded us of Francis Scott Key watching the bombing of Fort McHenry, a local radio station played country music in the background. In one song, a young mother with small children talked to their father far away at war. As I choked back sobs, the tears welled in my eyes as I thought of the sacrifices, the loss of life, the breakup of families, the bravery but yet the ugliness of war.
In 25 years of service, I never faced down an enemy soldier. I never slept in a tent, never slogged through a swamp in some forsaken jungle, never carried my weapon everywhere for protection, never looked in the eyes of a child and wondered if he or she was wired to kill me. And yet people thank me for my service. How much more should we thank those who face death every day for an ideal, for a 232-year-old experiment called the United States of America.

As I pondered these things, I began to wonder what makes me "proud to be an American." What is the quintessentially American ideal that we celebrate every year on the birth of our nation? Freedom and liberty are words thrown around so much, they mean everything and nothing.

I finally came to the conclusion that I could not improve on the words of the Declaration of Independence and these self-evident truths: "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

And in what is more a declaration of dependence than independence, the following: "And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

Independence from a despotic power with a "history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over (us)" and dependence on Divine Providence and one another.

And I wondered, deep in my wonderer, in the place where I wonder, whether or not "the governed," i.e. us, we the people, have the capacity and the will and the understanding and the resolve to truly give our informed consent or whether we are destined to submit ourselves again to tyranny. We can only hope, pray, and work together that it be the former and not the latter!