Note: Something triggered this nostalgic moment and while more on the rough draft side, I thought I’d use it for day three of my “6 years on WP.org” posts.
One of the joys of being a performing member of the Denver Mandolin Orchestra was the sense of generational genesis. The turn of the 20th to the 21st century marked my introduction and induction into this motley crew of musicians. A group ranging from violin virtuoso Thereza Stephan doubling on mando; mando greats Eli Karasek, Charlie Provenza, Drew Horton; to mother-daughter and father-son mandolinists sharing music stands during rehearsals and consequent performances. And then there were us guitarists headed by Ron Grosswiler whose collection of historical American classical guitar scores along with Mandolin Orchestra Repertoire from then till now was legendary and not fully revealed until after his death in 2010.
Peppered throughout the DMO’s 23+ musicians, amateurs and professionals alike, we all contributed to the awareness of this largely unknown type of accessible American music. Plus, those like myself who just wanted to play in an ‘orchestra’ with instruments not normally associated with conventional orchestras.
But what I remember most vividly is the memorial service Swallow Hill hosted for one of its own volunteers, and for one of our very own DMO members, Paul Drury, sometime in 2004 (?).
Living within modest means, and one who knew hardship as well as gritty challenges, Paul cared for others. He made sure everyday people got to enjoy simple pleasures – like music. Often, he’d pass on Swallow Hill concert tickets he purchased himself to people he knew marginally (often a little lost in life) – just so they could bask in the healing that is music.
One evening, he died suddenly due to an unperceived advancement in symptoms of diabetic shock…
I hadn’t been a part of the DMO for several years, but was contacted about the jam-session memorial to be held in his honor…an invite to bring my instrument and pluck some of the corny rep we played as a group. And yes, he had a proper musical tribute played by a smaller version of the DMO.
However, it wasn’t until the first strums of Warren Zevon’s Keep Me In Your Heart drifted through the auditorium sound system that the crowd got silent…Paul’s wish for all, sung for the one we had all come to honor that night.