Tutti. I’m a word geek and I just love this one. For those of us who are not musicians, it means: all voices working together.  I love it when the sounds of words echo their meaning. Just say it! The word bounces with excitement. Now, say it again. Doesn’t it also whisper with a warm sense of sharing? This word probably speaks to me because three years ago our family experienced this creativity and sharing when it was not expected.

A frigid February evening had settled in quickly and it was dark around five, but the weather outside the Warch Center at Lawrence was in sharp contrast to the energy and warmth inside. At one end of this complex, overlooking the river, thirty to forty 11-18 year olds were gathered to share their music with each other and their assembled audience. They were united by quiet pride in their ability and a palpable sense of excitement. Among them was my daughter, who had been asked to perform. That evening, she was nervous. She wanted to help teachers she cared about: she wanted to give back to a community that had inspired her and nurtured her. As my husband and I watched, we saw teachers, and students, encourage, guide and support each other. We watched young people glow in a sense of achievement and enjoyment. We saw poise, pride and a sense of self –worth. We were a small family of four but in that room we knew we had a much bigger unit supporting us in values we held dear: a love of the arts, a belief in self –realization, and deep desire to share these possibilities with the rest of the community. The event was Tutti; the purpose, to raise money for scholarships through combined creativity.

The huge irony was we would not have even considered attending if Claire had not been asked to sing.  With this opportunity came the gift of reduced tickets. We didn’t have a lot to give in a monetary sense and we thought that ruled us out.  However, that night, as these young people performed, we realized that we gave by sharing our talents, talents nurtured by the very place that we wanted to support and, in giving, we grew as individuals and a family.

We were not the only ones that had discovered this. The audience was mixed and many of the Academy’s strongest supporters were not there in person; instead they were represented through the beautiful baskets at the opposite end of the room. People had given talents as well as items. There was a baby-sitting basket, from  Bel Canto girls offering time and company; there were music lessons donated by teachers, and there was a beautiful basket of handmade cards for all occasions. That night my family had an important lesson reinforced; we all have something to offer.

This year my husband and I are both volunteering our time. As a family, we have created a bread- making basket. Each of us has helped with the cooking (and sampling!). Already, we have had fun on a limited budget and we’ve had a chance to be creative. On the night, it will be a desire to help, and a sense of what we have to offer that will be most important. We really want to share this evening with as many of you as we can, so please join us.

  • Can you volunteer on the night? If so please call on 832 6632 and talk to Cheryl or Sara about possibilities.
  •  Donate just a small item to a studio or an ensemble.
  • Be creative! Give of your talents and design a basket to represent these.

This is more about the size of your heart and imagination than the size of your donation. When our family came to Appleton, we recognized the Academy offered us a creative and generous home, and that is why we stayed. Please join us so we can share the magic that happens when all voices are working together.

By Anne Powling