Hugh, Jenna and Cailin are thrilled that Asher will be joining our board!
I am writing to accept the invitation offered to me to join the Tundi Board of Directors. I want to outline my understanding of what Tundi provides to our community and to offer support toward attainment of the goals this implies.
For some years I knew about your success presenting local operas but was properly introduced when my ten-year old son participated in the adult chorus of Brattleboro Music Center’s 2018 production of Puccini’s Turandot. Through this experience I gained a fairly intimate view of your energy, talent and abilities. During rehearsals I became aware of the unusually high level of ingenuity and respect with which you directed the orchestral musicians and the choral and solo artists regardless of their age, level of experience, or assumed ability. You continually inspired the performers to take risks to understand the language, music and themselves as artists as fully as possible and in ways that many involved had assumed was out of their reach.
What stood out most, however, was not individual artists gaining in opportunity or skill or the fact that you arrived at successful performances of Turandot. For weeks of preparation, I saw performers focusing on what was on the page and what they thought they were capable of doing wit voices or instruments were capable of and I saw you refocusing them on the resource of their inner experience and on each other. Because of your guidance, once the performers were put together before an eager audience, an outcome manifested that was beyond the imagination of most people involved. I spoke to many of the performers and not a few of the audience members that attended the three performances. While I am sure not many would put it exactly this way, I am aware from what they did say to me that you lifted almost all involved to what I would describe as a secular experience of communion.
I know that this is true for my son. Young as he is, you related to him with respect and expectation from the very first rehearsal he showed up for. And because you allowed him to channel the intensity native to his disposition, he now hungers for the next opportunity to raise his voice and to work with you in the context of staging an opera. On a daily basis he sits at the piano and sings with a longing not just to sit at the piano singing alone but waiting to bring his creativity into a collective experience.
While this may sound inflated, please understand that my thinking, and my interest in supporting Tundi, comes out of my 25 years’ experience working as a mental health counselor and the study this entails. I am aware of the difficulties artistic and extremely sensitive individuals are up against in terms of finding a sense of belonging personally and in our society. Struggling independently, without adequate direction, they so often succumb to illness or to someone else’s belief that they are ill. And if our artists flounder, then we do. So little in our local, hectic lives offers any of us an adequate opportunity to confront our humanity together, as a larger community and in an embodied and formal way.
Research bears out that when we have rituals or shared experiences that allow for creative expression and exploration of the questions and tensions embedded in our daily lives, we are healthier. I believe that opera has endured exactly for this reason. I also believe that opera gains in significance when produced locally, inclusive of people we known intimately and performed in community spaces used more generally. Then it becomes a perfect medium for the kind of ritual I am referring to. I believe these values are implicit in your work and future endeavors.
For these reasons, I would like to help Tundi in any way I can to become well established artistically and to arrive at a state of security regarding finances and personnel that allows for differentiation between the production and the direction of local opera. To bring opera to our area both of you have historically done everything necessary. Costuming, finding venues, work on sets, staging, voice coaching, conducting, arranging for transportation and fundraising is an incomplete list. With a functional organizational board and the help that can enlist, Tundi will be able to fulfill its potential as a needed community resource.