Last night, I sat next to my longtime mentor and close friend, Dr. George Belden, during the dress rehearsal for tonight's Anchorage Civic Orchestra Spring Concert. The orchestra was playing the slow movement from Antonin Dvorak's evocative Ninth Symphony - the New World Symphony. As the music wound toward the restatement of the so-called "Goin' Home" theme, I turned to George. I play tuba, Dr. Belden is the orchestra's bass trombone. We were counting rests. Lots of rests, lots of counting.
I told George, "this is one of the most beautiful pieces of music yet written."
He replied, "It's hard to imagine a more poignant, truthful and well constructed musical statement."
We were both near tears.
George and his wife Micky found out just over a week ago that she has a brain tumor. She needs surgery very soon, and the results from a series of tests are coming in.
Yesterday afternoon, my wife and I found out that the son of Scott Daugherty, her longtime boss and close friend, was in the awful multi-car crash on the Glenn Highway at Airport Heights yesterday morning. Conor Daugherty was driving the first car hit by an out-of-control SUV, driven by a man who works for the Chugach Alaska Job Corps facility in Palmer. Two other people were hurt, but young Conor took the brunt of the force. He is in critical condition, and is comatose at present.
Life can be so fragile, so precious.
Music like this can soothe the soul, though:
The Anchorage Civic Orchestra will play the New World Symphony and the premiers of Dan Heynen's orchestration of the late Alaska composer Curtiss Blake's Sonata for French Horn tonight. Heynen will play the solo.
The concert, directed by Tai Wai Li, is at the Sydney Laurence Theater in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, and begins at 7:30 p.m.