Wednesday night I attended a musical event featuring the Rondout Valley High School Concert Orchestra and Chorus. It was one of those evenings that left me with a feeling that in spite of everything, all is truly right with the world. I'm a sucker for young voices singing American classics, in harmony, and interludes of music by a serious, full-scale youth orchestra.
The peppy choral director is Dr. Barbara Wild, who had the 60-voice mixed choir singing folk songs, hymns, and Aaron Copland's evocative American music. She immediately won the audience over with her upbeat style and her request to "take a picture now, not after we start. This is a human, non-electronic program." The brass ensemble, under the direction of Randolph Loder, led with a rousing "Fanfare for the Common Man" and the orchestra played such heartwarming Americana as "Shenandoah"as well as a smattering of selections from early American composers.
I was sold on the content, but what really touched me was the verve of the singers and musicians. I could hardly take my eyes of a certain singer of the bass section, who happens to be my 15-year-old grandson. Andy cut a striking figure onstage with his glowing complexion and earnest approach to the work. Andy plays goalie on the school soccer team and the demonstrates the same charisma on the field. But to my mind it takes a lot more guts to sing in the concert chorus than to play a sport, any sport. I might be a little prejudiced. I'll admit it.
Living in this area, I'll be able to watch him and his brother develop in the next few years. Different as brothers can be, I've always had a special place in my heart for Andy, the little one who could sing "This Old Man, he played one..." before he could really say the words, and announced to us that when he grew up he would be a "ballet singer!" Over the years, the self-consciousness of the world eked its way into him and he said he couldn't sing, but he gravitated to the chorus. He won't take a solo assignment at this point, but says he loves singing harmony to classical music. He has a gift for languages, too, and something in me sees the opera in his future.
His brother is thriving in his first year of college, and we all can't wait to see what he will make of himself there. One of those smart boys who had no patience for high school, he had a few brushes with life-threatening situations and always bounced back as if nothing has happened. At this point he has nothing but good to say about college and his grades are mostly A's. This is after one semester, mind you. We don't know what to expect. This is me talking, and I say there is every reason to expect good things. A glimmer of the possibility of greatness in both grandsons. And a rising wave of support from all sides, including having Grandma near to consult with. If only they will.
It's the reason I moved up here, this beautiful music of family, possibilities, and hope. Wednesday night was a good beginning.