Ray Adams brought everyone together
I am writing to remember my friend Ray Adams. I was his friend for 23 years and had the honor of performing as his concertmaster for 16 years. Many locals have asked me why I kept coming back to Aspen year after year to perform with Ray and the Aspen Choral Society. It wasn’t just love for the man, though we were as brothers. It was love for the music and the passion he brought to every rehearsal and concert that brought me back.
Now, a lot of people may think that I exaggerate. What else might you say in a letter about a talented musician who has passed?
But having performed in the professional world of music for 28 years and having sat beside cynical, jaded musicians, withstood the business compromises, borne the brunt of “star” conductors and their “oh so bored” and demeaning behavior toward musicians and the music, it was a relief to perform with Ray.
Maybe he didn’t get the same crowd as the Sunday afternoon, star studded, Aspen Music Festival concerts do in the tent. But that wasn’t his scene anyway.
If you ever attended a concert of Ray’s, it wasn’t about exclusivity – it was about bringing everyone along for the ride. All the singers, all the musicians, the audiences, no matter who you were, what you knew about music, whether you could afford it or not, where you were from, by Ray’s sheer force of will he brought all of us along with him on wave after wave of soaring, passionate music.
He would say to the audience, “This is your choir. It is made up of your neighbors, friends and families up and down our valley.” His intention was to bring all of us together, musicians and audiences. This is why I kept coming back for so many years: to remind myself that I perform for that fervent moment. That moment when all of us gave everything Ray asked of us, musicians and choir hand in hand, audiences giving all their energy and support and love.!
And in those moments, we all knew each other. We all forgave each other, and we all celebrated the beautiful valley and each of its unique and talented citizens.
Can I remind the folks of the Roaring Fork Valley, who have been so very kind to me for the last 23 years, what the last thing Ray said every year before performing “The Messiah.”: “Look around your community, see those in need, those that are alone, and go be there for them.”
Thank you, Ray, for being there for us.
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