Uniting the world through music
By John W. Griffin Jr. - Guest Column
June 15, 2017 at 6:51 p.m.
Updated June 16, 2017 at 6 a.m.
There's nothing so special as watching toddlers dance to live music, and I witnessed many of these spontaneous dances over the weeklong Victoria Bach Festival, June 6-10.
During Bach Festival week, music is performed not just in concert halls but shared in coffee houses, DeLeon Plaza, nursing homes, churches and even the mission in Goliad. And not just the music of Bach but music of all kinds, even arrangements of music from The Doors.
The festival is committed to offering free events. In years past, the mentality was that the festival's music is too good to be performed for free. Today, though, that thought has shifted to the view that this music is so good that it must be shared with all. Sixteen of the 20 events of this year's festival were free of charge.
We welcomed a new artistic director this season, Dr. Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez. While transition moments can be difficult, they can also be exhilarating. We have seen that before our eyes in our artistic director transition, from the son of a Minnesota Lutheran pastor to the son of a bass player from Guadalajara, Mexico. What is striking is that despite their paths to Victoria, they both have supreme talent, kindness and warmth, qualities that also describe the festival's executive director, Nina DiLeo.
The world is certainly changing - in the way information is disseminated, the way music is shared and the way we interact with others. This festival is a testament to that, and those of us who are in the trenches as volunteers see the preciousness of relationships and trust.
Volunteers and musicians come from different backgrounds, places and political preferences. Working side by side, getting to know our fellow volunteers and making this festival the success that it is builds trust. We know each other's foibles, preferences and viewpoints, and we accept them and love them for the good that we do together.
These volunteers and musicians know how the arts make us all better, and they know that a society where the arts flourish is one whose future is bright, even as we live in a complicated and sometimes polarized world. We know that in Victoria, people dig deep to make our area one that attracts the arts, business development and tourism. The festival is part of a vibrant arts community that celebrates music, the visual arts, theater, historic preservation and dance.
As Victoria families have welcomed into their homes musicians and singers from Greece, Bulgaria, Germany, Sweden, Venezuela, Mexico, Canada, New Zealand and other faraway places, it proves the importance of the festival's vision statement: A world united by music.
And so, during this week of music, we were united, captivated, and thrilled. We are committed to working to make 2018 even more special. For now, though, this community has every right to celebrate what we have experienced, recognizing that uniting people from all over the world for a week of extraordinary music can be magical, both for us and the out of town visitor we host.
John W. Griffin Jr. is a Victoria lawyer and a volunteer and member of the board of directors of the Victoria Bach Festival.