Spokane Symphony: Stoking the Fire

There is magic in the walls of the historic theaters in our towns.  Almost as if with every year the passion and the beauty of the art forms created there soak into the very foundations beneath it..  We are very lucky in my city of Spokane, WA  to have the historic Fox Theater.  This art deco jewel has been a part of our history for close to 100 years and you can feel the depth of creative energy pulsing within it.  

I was excited to be sitting in those seats for the final show of the Spokane Symphony season.  There is nothing like witnessing true artists as they present something as beautiful as  Stravinsky’s Firebird.  You don’t have to know classical music to appreciate the way it echoes in your chest or the passion on the faces it is resonating from.  Under the deft and very charming direction of conductor James Lowe the night was truly enchanting.  To witness the featured violinist, the renowned Benjamin Beilman, play with such passion, fury and joy I felt like Julia Roberts at the Opera in Pretty Woman.  This experience was eye-opening.

Beyond the spellbinding performances before me, I found myself present on a night where our local music teachers were being recognized.  I sat there reflecting on how each of these brilliant musicians had started in a classroom on “band” or “orchestra” day (at least that is what we called it in my day). I realized that the names of these teachers were still so firmly set in my mind.  Mr. Mickafelter introduced me to the trombone in 4th grade, igniting my curiosity in this instrument and Mr. Schultz cultivated my study of the artistry as I moved on to junior high.  As I grew I expanded into choir and theater.  These are the very people who help to mold our connection to joy and passion and life.  To begin to appreciate our experiences through beauty and emotion, to find our ways to process the world around us.  

These life skills are just as important as the others we are taught in academia, yet are prioritized so much lower.  As we continue to see funding for our arts programs lowered and threatened to extinction across our country, the faces of these teachers become more poignant. Sitting in this extraordinary theater, I am reminded how very lucky we are.  For our arts are not some ancient relics to be taken lightly, they are truly the building blocks to our humanity.  

As we were reminded by our city’s very own symphony conductor, James Lowe, in the great words of Gustav Mahler, “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”  Appreciate the arts in your town, support them and keep stoking that fire, it’s needed! 

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