By Elizabeth Widel
OMAK - The Okanogan Valley chapter of the Washington State Music Teachers Association presented a concert March 16 at the Performing Arts Center that covered a number of bases.
Not only did it present local artists, both professional and non-professional, but it raised money for the chapter's scholarship program and celebrated the fine piano it has in the local Steinway.
Some very high-class music was presented by the varied performers, but an easy-going air led to a relaxed, comfortable feeling.
This will not be a formal review as such. They all did well. We heard everything from florid Baroque to some pretty hot jazz, and all of it smoothly done.
In sum, what it told us was that music is alive and well in the Okanogan.
Further, it was done by performers of many ages, indicating that our future looks good.
And after more than two hours of this, all performers were called back to the stage and joined in a solid rendition of "Dona nobis pacem" (grant us peace). They may or may not have expected this, but they gave it a solid rendition anyway.
Admission was by suggested donation, and one hopes the audience met the challenge.
At the end of the very well-done printed program was a history of the piano that told of the destruction of the earlier piano in the Copple School fire.
Now that one has been replaced by this very fine instrument and raised its lovely voice under the hands of a number of our local artists. We heard it go from a whisper to a roar and were comforted by the report in the program that proper steps were taken for control of storage space and temperature and humidity.
So we had three kinds of artists before us in this well-done concert: The performers, the instrument itself, and the man who skillfully keeps it in good condition, Jonathan Owens.
I have said that it takes three to make music: One to write, one to perform, and one to hear. Perhaps one should add to that the artisans who work with the instruments.
Henry Siegl, the retired violinist from the Seattle Symphony, once told this story when he was at the home of Joe and Elma Curry:
A violinist had a Stradivarius, considered the ultimate in fine violins. He was dissatisfied with its tone and sold it to Siegl, who took it to a man who worked on violins.
The artisan removed the back of the instrument, thinned it slightly, and reassembled it. It made all the difference in its sound, Siegl said.
The next time he met the man who had sold it to him and played a bit for him, the fellow went as white as a sheet at what he had given up.
So this is an art, too.
Our concert was a fine one. It celebrated the music, the instrument, and the performers who brought them to us.
And the scholarship fund it supports is named for Elma
Curry, who taught here and played that piano so well.
How rich we are!
Elizabeth Widel is a reviewer and columnist for The Chronicle. She can be reached at 509-826-1110.