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President's Corner

A bi-weekly column from the Office of the President

Giving, Receiving, and Celebrating

Dec. 15, 2003 8:21 AM | Updated: Dec. 23rd, 2003 8:21 AM
We will be with family in Boston for much of next week. Preparations for the holidays and the trip have been time-consuming, so I put off decorating the house. Although I needed to do it, I will have little time to enjoy it. Then a friend mentioned that she had turned on the Christmas music while she decorated. Suddenly, the task went right to the top of my list, and I found it so much more enjoyable with that festive background.

One can hardly help but notice the music each holiday season. We are so fortunate to have the Valley Voices, Troubadours, and music groups associated with the high school, college, and community school of the arts. My schedule has allowed me to attend only about half the holiday performances that were on my "must do" list. We have so many talented people, giving so generously of their time and talent to share their gifts and uplift our hearts.

Over Thanksgiving, I visited family in Illinois, including a brother who teaches music at a huge high school. His wife and daughter are actively involved with music, too, and it was fun to share in some of their musical holiday events. Young Sarah, who reached her teen years recently, has been practicing the cello faithfully and often for ten years. She is very, very good, and her music is bringing her opportunities to play with outstanding groups and travel internationally.

Since she works so hard at it, I expected her to focus on the personal benefits of music. Yet I found that her first love is playing in an orchestra, because of the bonds among members and the transcendent power of sitting within and helping to create such magnificent sounds. I think I would love it, too, although my nearest experience comes from my tendency to stand right in front of the pep band at football games.

Bonds like that were clearly evident at the EBC "In the Christmas Mood" concert at Vangstad Auditorium Saturday night. The setting, program, and performances were spectacular, as always, and that would be enough for a grand evening. In addition, it was such a joy to see the old favorites like John, Judy, H. Dean, and Paul, along with the recent alumni like Brian, Josh, Stacey, and Kevin " all together again and (remember Ed Sullivan?) "right here on our stage."

Memories of past performances and friendships deeply enriched the evening for many of us and, it was abundantly clear, for the performers. They had given up a whole string of Sundays to rehearse, and many evenings to practice, decorate, and plan. They gave all of us a wonderful gift through their work, and yet they received a great deal as well through their friendships, fun, and mutual accomplishments. Music may be one of the best examples of the idea that it is in giving that we receive.

Thank you, people with musical talent and people who teach music. Our lives would be much diminished without you.
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