Yesterday was the Canton Symphony Orchestra's "A Very Canton Christmas" concert, featuring the world premiere of Eric Benjamin's piece "A Secret Gift." It was absolutely fabulous. There really aren't words to describe how his interpretation of the book lit up the room. If you were one of the 1400 guests, you know what I'm talking about. If you weren't, I apologize for my inability to explain music in words. All I can say is it was awesome.
The piece had a ton of moving parts -- a huge choir, a narrator (author Ted Gup), several additional speaking parts, the orchestra, and a multimedia presentation. All of it came together beautifully in an orchestral work that honored both Sam Stone's legacy and the people of Canton.
Before the show, while Chris was getting his mic set up (he had one of the speaking parts), I ran into Ted. I hadn't seen him yet during his busy trip to Canton. His mom came in last week while he was performing with the Symphony for the Youth Concert. He and his family had come to see the exhibit on Saturday.
I held my breath, waiting to hear what he thought of the exhibit. His was the last stamp of approval I wanted. And I got it. :-)
Like his mother, he wasn't prepared for how big the exhibit was. He told me I had come at it from so many angles, and he really enjoyed it. I was thrilled!
But the reason this exhibit has been so successful is because Ted gave us all such a wonderful story to work with. He has repeatedly said it's not "his" story, but "our" story. And all of us who were fortunate enough to have a part in this One Book, One Community collaboration truly embraced that idea. We each made the story part of ourselves, and our organizations, and we presented it to the public to celebrate this amazing act of generosity.
I am so grateful that I had the chance to participate in this wonderful collaboration. I install three exhibits a year in the Keller Gallery, and I've been here 12 years. Although some exhibits are traveling shows, I estimate I've created, from scratch, nearly 30 exhibitions during my time here. And this one is definitely one of my favorites.
It has been a highlight of my career! It's not often that we get the chance to tell local history through the lens of American history as a whole. The letters written to B. Virdot illustrate the Great Depression in a way that historians cannot. These voices from the past resonate with us because they are raw, uninterpreted words. That is the strength of this story, which was translated into a play, a walking tour, an exhibition, and an orchestral piece. Each one conveyed this power and delivered it into the hands of all who witnessed it.
If you have not yet seen our exhibit A Secret Gift, it is on view through February 2. It's not simply a "display of letters." It is so much more than that. Please stop in and see it for yourself.
|This is the suitcase that carried the letters to Ted, so he could share them with the world.|