The Last Stand

Clarinet StandTonight, for the first time in 18 years, I brought my clarinet stand home from the Ohio Theater. After 18 years of being thrown around and used, it's still solid and sturdy.

My grandfather made this double clarinet stand for me in the early 1980's. He passed away in 1986. He loved making things in his retirement, having been an engineer and fine tool designer for much of his career.

He made things to last a lifetime. I also have several lamps around my house which were made by him. It seems that the knack for making things with that kind of quality has gotten lost, somehow, in the shuffle to make things cheap, and by extension, disposable.

Welsh Hymns and MelodesMy grandfather, William, also loved music. He was Welsh and sang in choirs all his life, though he didn't read a musical note. He sang and harmonized by ear.

Up to the end of his life, he attended yearly gatherings of Welsh Gymanf Ganu, grand choirs of thousands who came together for a few days annually simply to sing hymns. Can you imagine being in a choir of thousands?

After bringing home the clarinet stand he made, I wondered what William would have to say about the attitude from "on high" in this city about the Columbus Symphony, about the surreal silence Columbus is experiencing from those who should know better about the importance of the Arts?

Tonight we played what may be that last concert as the Columbus Symphony. We couldn't have had a better person to experience such a poignant and wistful event: Marvin Hamlisch.

Marvin not only put forth his usual wit, humor and beloved music making, but he took the time, he took lots of time, to put forth the argument for sustaining the arts in any city, and especially Columbus, a large and vigorous city which hardly knows it's own potential.

Before the final number, he stalled and stalled, not wanting to end. He said, (and I paraphrase) "I wish we could stop the clock now, so we wouldn't have to end; but I promise, I hope, this will not be the end, but only a hiatus." He said, in the voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger, "We'll be back!" He said, "Sometimes, you have to lose, or almost lose, what you have to appreciate it."

He also said, "If and when this crisis is over, I will come back and play a concert here as a fund raiser, and I'll donate my services. There's one condition, however; that I will get for my services a pint of Graeter's black raspberry chip ice cream, with one spoon, not two, because that ice cream is a taste of heaven."

Appropriately, the encore featured two esteemed senior members in the orchestra, Steve Secan and Randy Hester, who have been playing music with the CSO since the mid 1970's. Also fitting was the song we played, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".

Our audience gave us a standing ovation several times, showing their appreciation for us as people and for the Columbus Symphony as a valuable asset to the city.

After the concert, there were teary goodbyes between colleagues who have worked and grown together as human beings.

I didn't participate much in that ritual. I don't like goodbyes. Call me superstitious. I believe the people I meet and part from will always be in my life.

I also believe "We'll Be Back!" Like my grandfather's clarinet stand, the Columbus Symphony was made to last.

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3 comments for “The Last Stand

  1. Elaine Keckley
    June 1, 2008 at

    I, too, would like to thank you for the upbeat optimism in this note. I was present last night and have been able to think of little else today. I cannot imagine this city without her symphony. It is as though the color is gone from our lives to think of living without this magnificent organization. I pray that you will be back very, very soon.

  2. Barbara Racey
    June 1, 2008 at

    Thank you for sharing all these thoughts and feelings, David. I also believe. We will see and hear you on the Ohio Theater stage again, and the cheers will go on and on…

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