Nothing Happens Unless You Make It Happen!

The holiday season is nearly here and for each and every one of us this means something totally different. For some, it’s filled with joy, family, gifts, good food and holiday cheer. For little ones, the anticipation of Santa’s visit is tantalizingly close and for others there’s an anticipation of a completely different kind; expectations, disappointments, loneliness, self-evaluation, a wait for the season to end and of course… New Year’s resolutions.

For me, I often visit the memories of lost loved ones at this time of year and this Christmas my heart is well and truly with my dear old Dad. He was a larger than life character who would walk into a room and take center stage with his wonderful laugh, the stories he told and the friendships he had. He knew nothing about music but he definitely loved it and certainly would have admired my chosen career, had he known me as an adult. He was the kind of Father who would stand in an aisle at a supermarket, hear a song on the radio that would suddenly inspire him to take me in his arms and dance with me loudly singing at top of his lungs! At the time, as an embarrassed teenager, I would be completely mortified by the experience. 

When I was little, he would invite me to take out my violin and play for any poor unsuspecting visitor to our home in Switzerland. I could never really understand the tears that would inevitably follow, streaming down his face as he showered me with praise telling me how proud he was of me. I have so much to thank him for and I wish he was still alive today so I could look him in the eye and tell him how proud I am to be his daughter.

Any one who knew him well would tell you that Harry Solomon Stonehill lived by his sayings of which there were many! One of them has been firmly wedged in my mind recently – ‘Nothing happens unless you make it happen!’ – I can almost still hear him saying it now and while I heard it so many times over the course of my younger years, I never appreciated it as much as I do right now. 

Over the last few weeks something inside of me has shifted and I feel my Father’s presence very close to me at a time when things are tough for our young organization. I want to ask him what can I do to make a success of this ship I am steering to make sure it moves forward. Classical Music has taken a financial beating through the pandemic and continues to be well down the list of priorities as the world attempts to recover. It waits patiently to be seen, valued and nurtured once again.

Now more than ever, I am certain that if we do nothing, classical music will wither and die. Right now, the challenge is to grow an appreciation for music amongst the young. Our music in schools program is not just about playing a few good tunes. We have a responsibility to make a lasting impact with these kids so that they leave our program wanting more. Pressure on us? Absolutely! We have to play our socks off and more than that, we have to be able to explain the value of what music is and how it actually makes a tangible difference in society. 

One subject Nick often returns to in our school performances is how useful the four building blocks that music is, in everyday speech: Pitch, rhythm, dynamics and articulation. He explains that we all have an instrument in our own voices and these four elements of music can change the way the world reacts to you when we control them in our speech. We challenge the children to think about how this works: If someone is shouting at you, how does the volume and articulation make you feel? If your friend is using a low, slow and quiet voice perhaps they urgently need your compassion and kindness. Music and its elements have the power to speak so profoundly to each and every one of us in every conversation. The music in our voice cuts to the heart of who you really are and how you really feel.

Right now, Ashuelot Concerts finds itself in a race against the clock. We are doing everything we can to rebuild and grow our concert audience fast enough to sustain our program. Every day we work to persuade new schools to share our program of inspiring stories and live music with their students.  We are determined to bring more international touring musicians here to the region to participate in future seasons. We must keep going and provide lasting, genuine, heartfelt performances for this community that we have come to call our family. 

We urgently need your help and we hope that you will agree that the miracle of music is precious, valuable and in your hands and with your support will be able to thrive, grow and truly make the the Monadnock region an even better place to live.

One Comment

  1. Louisa, I can’t imagine a better expressed narrative. You hit every important point that can possibly be made. I know that your words inspire me, and I’m confident that they will have a similar effect on anyone who reads them. Let’s make this work!

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