Monday, August 21, 2006

Concerts in the Park

I grew up in a family of chauvinists.

The doctrine in my family of origin is that the piano is superior to all other instruments. My mother is a superb concert pianist who taught her children to love the piano. Mostly she did this by propping the music of Bach or Chopin in front of us at the keyboard; these spoke directly to our hearts. But she wasn't above using a little propaganda. Dinner table discussions often followed this line of reasoning:

"If you master the piano, you will be able to use it all your life. You will be in demand as a performer. You will be needed to accompany in churches and schools and many other exciting places. But if you spend your time on the clarinet" -- then came the worst threat imaginable -- "YOU WILL NEVER PLAY A SINGLE NOTE AFTER YOU GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL."

I would never, ever want to suggest that my mother was wrong. Especially not on the record.

But tonight in the American Fork amphitheater, I heard a memorable performance by a hundred instrumentalists -- all of them high school graduates, yet not a single pianist among them.

This was part of the Arts Council's Concerts in the Park series. We were treated to a beautiful performance by the Wasatch Winds under the very able direction of John Miller. I suspect that many members of the Wasatch Winds -- the Arts Council's new community band -- are graduates of the American Fork High School band program.

The Wasatch Winds were followed, tonight, by yet another superb ensemble, the Utah Premiere Brass. Led by another outstanding American Fork resident, Alan Boyer, the UPB seeks to revive the tradition of the British Brass Band. Here again, I suspect the group is largely peopled by AFHS alumni.

Two exciting ensembles peopled largely by high school graduates whose instruments -- clearly -- have been doing anything but gather dust.

I'm not saying my mother was wrong. Certainly not.

But I will cautiously suggest that neither she, nor I , ever suspected that a community like American Fork could provide so many outlets for musicians. [And I haven't even mentioned the American Fork Symphony or the Timpanogos Chorale. ]

If you are one of those people, who, having once performed a piece of music, can never again be content just to listen to it, then American Fork is the place for you.

If you haven't taken your family to hear at least one of the Concerts in the Park this summer, you've missed out. But there are still two more chances: Come hear Sam Payne on Saturday, August 26, or Ryan Taylor and the Utah Freedom Band on Monday, August 28. Both concerts begin at 7:00 p.m. in the amphitheater at 845 East 700 North, American Fork.


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