I could not live in a small town. I know thqt because I grew up in a few of them. The smallest was 800 people living on the banks of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. But I love it when I am thrown, for an evening, into the center of a small town. We played a gig last week in Lexington VA at an outdoor theater in the woods called Lime Kiln. I think that every person in the audience knew everyone else. We were the only strangers there. At the first song they clapped politely, just feeling out this new friendship between town and band. By the intermission we were on a first name basis. And by the end of the concert I feel like we could have gone home for coffee and ice cream with half the crowd. Music is an amazing way to build a friendship. You can leapfrog the years and years of passing on the street, having kids in school together, working on the same block and go right to a powerful personal, albeit non-specific, conversation that would normally take 20 years of friendship to get to. I got the whole experience of knowing everyone in town in the span of 2 hours.
I am the chairman of the board at Maryland Youth Ballet. How this came about is a long story. I have no qualifications for this position at all. And yet I am this, and being this changed my life.
As a career musician I always felt somehow untethered. Unattached to the place I lived. I always felt that if the right gig came along I would move in a heartbeat to Los Angeles or New York, or Austin Texas. I lived in Bethesda Md nearly by chance. My conncetion with my county, Montgomery County was as slender a thread as paying taxes and getting a discount at my Summer swimming pool.
I joined the board of MYB almost as a lark. I was thinking “what a hoot, me? on a board?” My reaction to being chosen as president was similarly light and ironic. As it has turned out this was one of the most important turning points in my life. Ove the past five years we have gone from having a dreadful facility and an organization teetering on collapse to having one of the best ballet studios on the East Coast and being one of Montogmery County’s largest, most financially robust arts non-profits. I am intensely proud of this.
On a personal level, this “job”, this labor of love has informed and directed the rest of my life.. yes, even as a composer. I now know most of my county council members. I know the Leggetts. I know my State legislators and my State senator. I live in Montgomery County in a connected way that I never thought I would. It is important to me where I live.
Last week I acted as emcee for the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet. I looked out at the owners of businesses from all over Silver Spring, the business hub of Montgomery County and I was intensely proud to be one of them and part of this group and part of this County.
GSSCC sincerely thanks the sponsors and members who supported the 2012 Awards & Installation Dinner this past Wednesday, one of the Chambers most important fundraising events of the year. The money raised through these events is critical to the Chamber’s ability to adequately serve our members.