Year’s end thanks

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(HOST) Winter days are short and nights are long. But commentator Allen Gilbert is reminded that our communities are vibrant throughout the year thanks to special individuals among us.

(GILBERT) At year’s end, I find myself feeling grateful for many things. This year I feel particularly grateful for the energy that so many people put into making life just a little bit better for everyone in our communities. Whether it’s the energy that people put into discussions at public meetings, or the enthusiasm at a sporting event, or the passion at a musical concert, it all adds up to a state that’s a pretty great place to live in.

There’s a need for this sort of feeling at this time of year in a place as northern as ours. The baseball field where I watch College League games in the summer is dark and snow-covered when I drive home from work. But other events help to drive away the sense of gloom that you can sometimes feel at this time of year. I feel particularly lucky when I’m able to take in any of a number of concerts that take place in my area.

Last month, in Montpelier, I attended a performance of works by Mozart and Brahms that was part of series called the Capital City Concerts. Behind this series is a remarkable individual, flautist Karen Kevra of Montpelier. She’s not only a superb flute player, she’s an organizational dynamo. She’s able to pull together great musicians and great music to create a level of performance quality in concert after concert. It’s stunning for a little city of 8,000 people.

And she does it with such a wonderful touch of whimsy. For the November concert, Ms. Kevra welcomed concertgoers with a “letter” that spoke of her love for baseball. She quoted a passage from former baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti. He described baseball as “The Green Fields of the Mind.” It’s a seasonal buffer, he said, that keeps the memory of “sunshine and high skies” alive. And then fall comes – when you need baseball the most. But then it ends.

Ms. Kevra noted, however, that when baseball goes away, music in the form of Capital City Concerts returns to Montpelier. “Whether you’re creating it or listening, music is a refuge,” she wrote. “It’s comforting, transcendent, and sensual.”

How many classical musical concerts can you go to where the program notes talk about baseball? And where the writer of these notes is herself a star performer? Ms. Kevra warmly pointed out that we’re lucky to hear music live, “close to home, together with neighbors and friends.”

She promised that, “If you make the effort to come and listen, your winter will be warmer and brighter.” Indeed, the second concert in the series was designed to make you feel just that way. It was a candlelight concert of Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Bach.

So to our fellow citizens who bring energy to our communities throughout the year – at baseball games when the days are long, and musical concerts when the days are short – thank you. Our lives are richer because of your efforts.

Allen Gilbert is a former journalist, teacher, and consultant currently serving as executive director of the ACLU of Vermont.

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