Village Harmony Concert benefits Heartbeet

In front of Greensboro United Church, July 4, 2014
In front of Greensboro United Church, July 4, 2014

Heartbeet participated in the Village Harmony Teen Ensemble Benefit Dinner and Concert in Greensboro, Vt on July 4th.  The event drew over 100 guests and raised more than $1200 in support of the Community Hall Capital Campaign.  Larry Gordon of Marshfield, VT; Suzannah Park of Ashville, NC; and Carlos Jurado of Pasto, Colombia; directed an ensemble of more than twenty teens, hailing from the state of Kansas to France.

The United Church sanctuary transformed to scenes of sugarcane milling in Columbia, working fields in the Republic of Georgia, the cathedrals of Renaissance Germany, to the waters of the American Atlantic coast and the green valleys of Appalachia.  An impressive pan of risotto, made with Heartbeet chicken and broth, plus Pete’s Green’s salad, Jasper Hill cheese and Connie’s Kitchen blueberry cake, satiated all our appetites through the two hour performance.

The concert and meal invited conversation.  Among those overhead: Connor and Suzannah’s new relationship (congrats!), meeting Parker’s second grade teacher, memorable first experiences feeling leather, stories from the first session of Camp Thorpe, and many, many new and ongoing conversations about life at Heartbeet.  As I sat in the performance, the familiar sounds of Max’s appreciation for good Appalachian music, the sight of Sam and Jared feeling moved to dance by the South African beat, and Kei’s ear-to-ear smile at the joining of two of his special communities, reminded me why music and the arts matter to communities, serving adults of all abilities.

A musical performance creates an environment in which I need only openness and willingness to participate with the best of my abilities. I can feel and see the awareness of openness, both in the performing teenagers and the listening audience, as each one overcomes the grip of inner anxieties with a rising tide of inner flexibility.  The sanctuary space was penetrated through the evening by growing numbers of nodding heads, tapping toes, and swaying hips.  The second factor, willingness, is present as each audience member as he or she stands, giving up their own personal safety to join with others standing, trusting each other to see the self, not for its inabilities, but for its interest in expressing joy for this beautiful music and performance.

The Village Harmony Benefit Dinner and Concert contributed to a community effort to raise $2.2 million needed to construct the Heartbeet Community Hall.  Suzannah Park, a former Village Harmony camper and now instructor, expressed the effect of musical expression and opportunity in the life of communities: “To lead big, full lives, no matter how you were born or raised.”  I experience the equality and opportunity that the arts bring to the lives of people with all abilities.  Therefore, I eagerly anticipate when Heartbeet, with financial help from all those in our community and extended communities, will lay the foundation for a Hall of its own.

Jonathan Flint