It was July 4, 1996. My brother, John, and sister, Becca, had chosen to spend the 4th of July holiday in Buena Vista with my grandparents. I had decided to stay home with my parents. My baby brother Stephen was yet to arrive in October, so I had a brief “only child” experience. Because of my love for music, my dad had taken the time to plan a 4th of July filled with music. We first went to the Cherry Creek Arts Festival. All I really remember is that it was extremely hot, so my dad brought me some ice-cold water in a plastic cup. I still have that cup – a musical staff swirled around with bright red cherries for music notes.
That evening my dad told me that we were going to a live orchestra concert in a Thornton parking lot with fireworks afterward. The Longmont Symphony. It was the first time I had heard of this orchestra, and I had no idea how precious it would become to me. I had only been playing violin for two years, and I was enthralled by the symphony. At 10 years old, I soaked up every note they played. At one point in the concert, they invited the kids up to conduct the orchestra. I bravely walked forward and got to stand on the podium and wave the baton while they played “Stars and Stripes Forever.” When it got dark, the fireworks show began. It was amazing. The fireworks were synchronized to the “1812 Overture” and other patriotic pieces played by the symphony. It was then that I decided that someday I was going to play with the Longmont Symphony.
The next year, we had to return to 4th of July concert in Thornton so that John, Becca, and now Stephen could also experience the greatness of the music and fireworks. We returned again and again, year after year, always bringing with us new family and friends. Eventually, the event got so big, they moved it to a large park in Thornton. When asked, I always said the 4th of July was my favorite holiday – but I’m 99% sure it was because it was the one day of the year I knew I would get to go to a symphony orchestra concert.
We gradually stopped attending the concert as we got busy with high school and college things. I played violin with UNC’s symphony and graduated with a minor in music and a major in elementary education. My life became saturated with my teaching job, but I still played violin occasionally at church. After my 3rd year of teaching, I started making a bucket list. I was home with my family on July 4, 2011. We hadn’t made any plans yet for fireworks. After tossing around a few ideas, my dad said, “We could go see the Longmont Symphony concert again.” Instantly, my mind jumped to my bucket list. Number 26 read, “consistently play in a symphony orchestra again.” For some reason, I had completely forgotten about the Longmont Symphony, but suddenly my mind was racing – I teach in Platteville, which is just east of Longmont…
We did go to the Longmont Symphony concert again, and I enjoyed it just as much as when I was 10 years old. The very next day, I e-mailed for information about auditions. I received the music and auditioned at the end of August. I was thrilled to make it in as a 2nd violinist. However, it wasn’t until July 4th, 2012, as I sat on stage to play with the orchestra, that I realized I had finally accomplished the dream I’d had as a 10-year-old. Once again, I soaked in every note – but this time as a violinist in the Longmont Symphony Orchestra.
Just this week I learned that last year’s July 4th concert was the last one the Longmont Symphony will perform in Thornton. It made my heart sad to hear the news. I had hoped that performing this special concert with the LSO would become a new tradition for me. Now it is to be no more. But my dream did come true. Fifteen years after I first heard of the Longmont Symphony, I have become a part of their music – not just on the 4th of July, but throughout the entire year. And it has produced even more blessings than I could have realized. I have made new friends; after performing “Catcerto” with the symphony, I decided to get a kitten, and she is a wonderful companion; practicing the music for our concerts has provided an outlet for me to unwind from work; and there is incredible joy in playing with an orchestra. My dream of playing in the Longmont Symphony on the 4th of July was only the first step.