Vagneur: The incorruptible and unpretentious things in life |

Vagneur: The incorruptible and unpretentious things in life

Tony Vagneur
Saddle Sore

With the busy summer season almost over, there’s surely some butt squirming and developing angst deep in the hearts of those who haven’t yet received an invitation, but hope to soon, to one of those Aspen social-cracking, A-list parties.

However, if you keep the lines of communication open, you might receive an invitation to something more enlightening and fun, such as was the case this past weekend when my daughter called, inviting me to “Tunes and Tales,” a children’s program at the Basalt Regional Public Library. If you think I’m a little old for such intellectual stimulation, you might be wrong.

How easy it is for us, as adults, to forget the innocence and pure joy that exposure to new experiences can bring. The jaded and cynical attitude many of us carry of “Been there, done that” takes away so much of the potential we still have for enjoying the incorruptible and unpretentious things in life.

We got there early, the seats were filling up fast, and just like at the Music Tent or the movie house, the anticipatory energy could already be felt. What had we signed up for? I had no idea, but it was starting to look interesting.

Speaking of the Music Tent, there were two musicians at the front of the room, early themselves, set up with their attendant music stands and classical instruments, sending out an aura of professionalism and competence, ready to play. Scattered throughout the room were soccer moms with whom I had traveled for years during my daughter’s younger years, moms who are grandmothers now, and it was a reunion of sorts for those of us who were fortunate to share those years.

Animation is part of learning, especially if you’re little, and before long the opening song was upon us, “We wave and say hello,” and little arms shot up, smiles crossed faces and the program was on. Deftly telling the story was Linda Slaybaugh, official children’s librarian and a seasoned veteran of teaching youngsters, who took us through an interesting adventure, “Going on a Bear Hunt,” which involved much hand, leg and body movement, accompanied by, are you ready for this, a bassoon and a cello.

Oh man, the sounds that were created by bassoonist Cameron Keenan and cellist Sarah Beske put chills up my spine at the scary parts and a smile on my face during the cheerful sections. Amazing the sounds such classical instruments can make when played in a fun and inventive environment, followed by the giggles of young kids and the sighs of relaxed adults.

If you recall, a bassoon is memorable for playing the low notes exemplifying the grumpy grandfather in Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” and Keenan gave us a quick shot of that classic, bringing smiles to many of us older folks in the room. Speaking of that, in the very large community room, which was filled to capacity and then some, there seemed to be almost as many adults as there were children.

Charlotte McLain, professional harpsichordist and librarian extraordinaire, relates to the storytellers and musicians the general outline of the mood she wants to create and then gives them the space to innovate and create the score in any way they wish. It makes for spontaneous and creative adventures on the instruments and in the telling of the story. Cellist Beske, education and community coordinator for the Aspen Music Festival and School, appears every week, rotating through students for the other accompanying instrument. This has been the second very successful year of “Tunes and Tales.”

As we prepared to leave, the young kid that sat in front of me and who, for some reason, occasionally gave me a glance and a shy smile, slapped me a high-five and disappeared down the aisle. My grandson, who definitely liked the stamping of feet the best, reached up to grab my hand with a large smile and we filed out, as well.

Such energy, such focus, by children and adults alike was refreshing. And in a side note, there were tourists in the audience, people who came on the recommendation of concierges and hotel operators around town, folks who know where to find a good time. The last performance is Tuesday. It’ll bring out the kid in you.

Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and welcomes your comments at

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