My Turn by Dennis Hill: Salisbury is music to my ears

Published 12:04 am Monday, December 8, 2014

She was sitting at her potter’s wheel just inside the front door of the restored First National Bank building that now is the home of Chestnut Creek School of the Arts in Galax, Va. We exchanged pleasantries as I watched her fingers expertly tune the moist clay that would eventually develop in to a cup or a bowl. I told her my mother loved her time at the potter’s wheel and that she had taught my two girls. She asked: “What is your passion?” I had to think about that.

We commonly browse through the new exhibits at the School of the Arts after eating lunch next door at Scoots café before heading up to the Parkway for an afternoon of bluegrass at the Blue Ridge Music Center.

Music, I said finally, especially opera. Music, that wordless language that speaks to the most devastated of brain injured patients; those with end stage Alzheimer Disease or massive stroke. Music to which we joyfully dance in the “drum circle” in downtown Asheville on Friday nights in summer. Music that joins our spirits as we sing “America the Beautiful,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Amazing Grace” or “Auld Lang Syne.” Or music that thrills us as we experience “Stars and Stripes Forever” and the “1812 Overture” with thousands of Salisburians at Pops at the Post in June.

Music that calms and comforts. One wonders how many windows would have been broken or businesses burned in Ferguson had the protesters been singing “We shall overcome, we shall overcome some day” rather than chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot!”

Driving home, I began to think about music in Salisbury. If you enjoy cabaret, blue grass, country, contemporary, try the Lee Street Theater concert series. You prefer sacred, classical, opera? Check Matthew Brown and the concerts at First Methodist Church. What about Broadway? Remember what Piedmont Players did with Salisbury Symphony in their extraordinary production of Les Miserables.

Choral? Think about The Catawba Singers with Phillip Burgess. Symphony? Maestro David Hagy brings the highest quality classical music to the stage with The Salisbury Symphony. Who can forget the five curtain calls following the performance of a Brahms piano concerto at the last concert?

What about opera? Did you know that Tinsel Town brings the Metropolitan Opera live from New York on the big screen in HD? You feel as if you are in the midst of the orchestra at the Met in person; only the “seats are better!” Rene Fleming in the Merry Widow is scheduled for January. Check out The Met in HD website for details.

You owe it to yourself to enjoy Salisbury music. I continue to be amazed at our local talent and the quality of performance. So many have said to me after joining in a standing ovation: “I’ve never heard better in Charlotte or New York.”

Music is my passion. I am unfortunately only a passive participant. Maybe in another life I’ll be a professional musician.

Dr. Dennis L. Hill lives in Salisbury.

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