Whitesburg KY

Opportunity should be seized by all

To the Editor:

Two weeks ago, an audience of about 250 applauded a stirring performance at a concert by a world-known pianist — Dr. Richard Glazier — in the 600-seat auditorium at Letcher County Central High School. This free event celebrated the gift of a Steinway “B” Grand piano to the school, the students and the people of Letcher County by a group of graduates, former students and friends of the old Whitesburg High School. What an event! We appreciated The Mountain Eagle’s coverage.

Earlier in the day, Dr. Glazier performed for more than 900 students in two afternoon concerts. While the musical era of the Gershwin Brothers tunes may have been foreign to most of the students because of the age difference, they showed a great appreciation for the magnificent performance by the pianist. The music of George and Ira Gershwin was unequaled during the twenties and thirties in movies, on Broadway and in the minds of Americans during the pre-WWII period and is still enjoyed by music lovers all over the world. Dr. Glazier is an ambassador of that success. We were fortunate to have him as a guest artist. The Glaziers spoke glowingly of their first visit to the mountains and vowed that they would return for a longer stay.

Almost half of the evening audience was composed of former WHS students who contributed to the piano fund and more than half of those were visiting from out of town just to attend that event. Without exception, those in attendance marveled at the piano and the pianist as well as the acoustics in the new auditorium. It was a great evening. We only regret that the auditorium was not overflowing with local people who could have enjoyed this performance as much as those in attendance did. It was an opportunity not to be missed.

The community and the school now have a beautiful musical instrument which should be cherished by future generations as the Steinway is considered the ultimate keyboard instrument, worldwide. The good fortune is timely with the resurgence of a community interest in entertainment and the arts. This is evidenced by the new music venues that have been created on Main Street as well as the visual arts opportunities provided by the locally owned Dali Exhibit and other art galleries.

Diversity of interest and tastes in music and art will make such programs even more successful. To further that end, the expanded band and choral programs and the new keyboard labs in each of the elementary schools will further stimulate interest and reap cultural benefits for years to come. The very successful production of “Grease” by the high school students, including athletes turned actors, provided an even broader scope of local entertainment and pride to the school and the community. Maybe these new thespians will be cast in the revitalized summer production of “The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come” outdoor drama, a tourism drawing card benefiting the entire area economically.

It is hoped that all of these happenings will provide a momentum to be grasped by all of the citizens of the Letcher County community. They can provide an impetus for a community arts program for local talents as well as touring artists and a forum that will benefit not only the students of Letcher County but every other resident.

There are several opportunities for regional music competitions, particularly involving the piano, that would fit well in the auditorium and utilize one of the finest pianos in eastern Kentucky. Community college music activities could attract visitors from all over the area.

These events can generate an economic opportunity for new businesses, new jobs and as a tourist attraction to bring a positive focus to the Letcher County communities. But, local officials and other leaders and followers must step forward to make this a viable reality and a success.

We urge your readers as well as the business, educational and other members of the community to seize the opportunity to make it happen. “Seize the day.” Don’t lose this momentum. Future generations and the entire county will benefit from the efforts.
Vero Beach, Fla.

Letcher County native Donald W. Webb was a developer and attorney in Lexington before retiring to Florida. He was instrumental in helping raise money to buy a new Steinway “B” Grand piano for Letcher County Central High School. Webb’s grandfather, Nehemiah Webb, founded The Mountain Eagle in 1907.

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