The Story Behind the Music

A reflection follows: the story behind the music. Originally posted to FB March 14, 2024
In 2015, the Chinook Winds Great Falls Symphony were invited to film a 60-minute episode of the Emmy winning 11th & Grant with Eric Funk. I wish I could remember exactly how it all came to be. My iteration of the CW had worked hard for three years performing, engaging, touring, and energizing the community in Great Falls and around Montana. We were embraced by a devoted community, concert presenters, and wonderful audiences. Northeastern Arts Network, Montana Montana Performing Arts Consortium
In addition to our invitation to film with 11th and Grant in the summer of 2015, we were also invited to present a recital at the International Horn Society in Los Angeles and International Double Reed Society in Japan! Outside our contracted activities, we spent the summer raising money in a grass roots campaign. We performed the National Anthem at a Great Falls Voyagers game and Electric City Speedway. We "passed-the-bucket" at community events, sold lollipops, t-shirts, pencils, stickers. We gave pop-up concerts, started on on-line donation page, and I even put a MASSIVE magnet on the side of the minivan. (It lives on my file cabinet to this day.)
We made it to 11th & Grant and to the International Horn Symposium conference that summer. We weren't able to make it to Japan. Many, many people came together to make it all possible and we were so excited to TELL THE STORY of live, classical music in Montana! Montana Public Radio
The night before we filmed this episode, we traveled to Bozeman where we had hotel accommodations. I got sick. REALLY, REALLY SICK. I always travel with a thermometer (I have no idea why). I had a fever around 102 degrees all night. But I was desperate, DESPERATE not to let down my colleagues and ruin this AMAZING opportunity for the CW and the GFSA. I had sadly gone through a miscarriage a few weeks prior and likely was working through some complications or an infection. Melanie was the only member of the CW who even knew about the miscarriage...because she was family. (She always thought of me as a mom...I always thought of her as a sister...LOL!)
In this episode (which I encourage you to watch, because we are AMAZING) I am playing a Légère Reeds which I switched to for the 2014-2015 season because we had to:
- homeschool our son in addition to
- performing with the GFSA
- the Chinook Winds
- the Billings Symphony tenured principal
- the Helena Symphony (subbing/extra)
- about to start teaching at University of Montana -thanks to the gracious Dr. Jennifer Gookin Cavanaugh
I simply could not manage reed making and that Legere reed saved me for an entire season. My colleagues were so gracious, totally absent of judgement that I had turned to a "plastic" reed to help me survive the many demands I was juggling...because they were family. I returned to reed making that fall because I took on a university position and knew I needed to find a way to make it all happen for the integrity of my pedagogy. Natalie Law
I am so proud of this episode. We had a huge premier party which we hoped would make some money. There was a great turnout and we filled the cozy basement of the The Celtic Cowboy. It was amazing to feel so loved and to see the fruits of our labors. Sadly, the premier party netted literally ~$11 once all expenses were paid to host it. I will never forget the meeting in which Carolyn Keightley Valacich ran through the finances with us. I felt so guilty and frustrated about all the work it required. But the GFSA supported the effort and celebrated our work.
This is a long story but it captures the complexity of the passion, work, hopes, sacrifices, frustrations, victories, heartaches, and financial challenges of trying to create art in rural Montana. It was truly an extraordinary time in my career. My gratitude is immeasurable. My heart breaks for I Stand With The Chinook Winds as they sunset the incredible legacy of this ~30-year-old ensemble.
Thank you for reading this whole story (if you are still here) and THANK YOU for supporting live music wherever you are. PLEASE support your local arts organizations, symphonies, art museums, bands, and individual musicians. Don't assume they will always be there protecting the experience of human connection through music and other art forms. It takes a HUGE and INTENTIONAL effort. Please choose to be a part of it, try it, support it, and let it change you.


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