Symphony fans enjoy a tapas extravaganza

Courtesy of Kathy Myrick

Nolan Reed and Mallory Shanks, members of the Four Corners Youth Symphony, entertain partygoers at the Tapas Extravaganza at the Sow’s Ear. The Youth Symphony is moving under the umbrella of the San Juan Symphony, which threw the fundraiser.

After a “Lollapalooza” of a season, San Juan Symphony supporters enjoyed a cornucopia of tapas, a plethora of music and a veritable who’s who of fellow music lovers at the Tapas Extravaganza.

Held at the Sow’s Ear at the beginning of May, there was one musical performance after another during the evening.

It also provided an opportunity to deliver some big news. Symphony Board President Sheri Rochford Figgs announced that the Four Corners Youth Symphony will be coming under the umbrella of the San Juan Symphony. It seems like a match made in heaven – and it explained why Youth Symphony musicians Nolan Reed, Casey Reed and Mallory Shanks all performed during the cocktail hour.

Also performing before dinner was a trio made up of flutist Rochelle Mann, oboist Danielle Menapace and clarinetist Josh Metz, all members of the orchestra. During dinner, we got a little jazzy with the trio of Chad MacCluskey, Bob Newnam and Jonathan Latta.

Sow’s Ear chef/owner George Mehaffie and his staff members were amazing, serving nine courses to 68 people. Talk about complicated plating and multitudinous dishes to wash!

Tapas are small-plate servings – in Spain, they count the number of plates on your table to calculate the bill – but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of food.

Here’s the menu: mussels with pancetta, oven-dried tomatoes and a sauce of white wine and herbs; roasted vegetables with anchovies served on crispy polenta; fried goat cheese with romesco sauce and grilled pita bread; shrimp with garlic sauce; crispy-skin Colorado striped bass with sweet-pea coulis and smoked paprika-whipped garbanzo beans; lamb sirloin with cassoulet, sherry-Dijon syrup and crispy kale; potato “osso buco” or a potato stuffed with braised oxtail, Burgundy jus and gremolata; and a dessert plate with an apricot and almond-stuffed poached pear with spicy sabayon and Mexican chocolate truffles. Wow!

The event was organized by Julia Dodd, Cheryl Folwell, Bette Serzen, Erin White Sinberg and San Juan Symphony Executive Director Kathy Myrick. Bruce Andrea and Andrea Mull underwrote the wines from Guy Drew Vineyards that were served with dinner. Durango Friends of the Arts as well as Chris Wing and Silverpick Lodge also helped put on the party.

Four big packages were put up for bid, including brunch at Guy Drew with a tour and wine tasting; a walk into the past at Chaco Culture National Historical Park led by John Ninnemann; a salsa party at Serzen’s lovely home with dance lessons and a Mexican dinner donated by Sinberg, and of course, margaritas; and one lucky person (congrats, Sydney Morris!) will conduct the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the opening concert of next season in October after a lesson with Music Director and Conductor Arthur Post.

This was the third year the symphony has held its largest fundraiser of the year at the Sow’s Ear, and this year it ended on a high note – literally. Durango Women’s Choir member Sinberg and Durango Choral Society members Dawn Spaeder and Sara Chozczyk stood in the balcony above the lobby and sang us out into the cold, dark night with a round of “Dona Nobis Pacem,” also known as “Grant Us Peace.” It was sublime.

All told, the event netted about $10,500 to support our symphony of two cities. Ticket sales only cover about a third of what it takes to mount four concerts, go into the schools and, now, support the Four Corners Youth Symphony.

If you would like to help keep our symphony going at a time when many are closing their doors, send your tax-deductible donation to the San Juan Symphony, P.O. Box 1073, Durango CO 81302.

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Enjoying three-day weekends for their birthdays are Patty Hain, Diane Shaline, Chris Serwe, Michael LaVerghetta, Eileen Albrecht, Hank Walker, Marilyn Baker, Marcy Jung, Christine Wright, Tom Breed, Erin Casey, Kip Boyd, Patty Isensee, Sue Evans, Mike Begg, Alexis Wood, Jeffrey Reynolds, Marian Townsend and Ann St. John.

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The Reading Club of Durango finished its 130th program year with its President’s Luncheon at the Center of Southwest Studies. The tradition is for the outgoing president, in this case the gracious Sandra Mapel, to plan the event.

Because it took place just a few days after Cinco de Mayo, the theme was Mexican with posole and Southwest-style salads with chicken followed, of course, by birthday cake.

Members met at the center because that’s the institution that is preserving the club’s records, which certainly paint a tale of Durango from its earliest years, at least from the female side. Three of us had spent a few delightful hours pouring through the club’s records to share some snippets of its history at the luncheon.

Yours truly covered the early years, from 1882 to 1920, when club members tirelessly participated in civic affairs and achieved their goal for self-improvement. The community can thank those first 12 members and their “descendants” for the trees down the meridian of East Third Avenue, Durango Public Library and helping to have Mesa Verde National Park designated as such by President Theodore Roosevelt, among countless other initiatives.

Beverly Darmour, who at 89 is by far the longest-term member at 49 years, took the years 1920 to about 1970, including the Depression and World War II years. Darmour being Darmour, she had a hat from the era to set the scene. She painted a vivid picture of Evelyn Eldridge, who was known for her long cigarette holder and the fact that she was still an active member as a centenarian.

And Ann Willard did the research but had to leave because her daughter had suffered an injury, so Joyce Erickson took over to cover the most recent decades, primarily using clippings of newspaper articles that ran during the period.

From the menus at parties – chicken cacciatore, anyone? – to descriptions of programs through the years, it was clear the commitment to learning and friendship has always been a constant.

The afternoon ended with white gloves (not snooty, but to protect fragile records from skin oils) as members happily leafed through old scrapbooks and ledgers to see for themselves.

I was invited to join the Reading Club about a year before I was hired to become the Neighbors columnist, and it’s the only organization from which I refused to resign when I started writing. The club’s history is full of Durango’s newspaperwomen, including charter member Laura March, whose family founded The Durango Herald, Herald owners Bessie McDevitt and Morley Ballantine and my immediate predecessor, Sally Morrissey. So, as the lawyers would say, precedent is in my favor.

Happy birthday, fellow Reading Club members past and present. It’s an honor to be in your company.

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Enjoying breezy anniversaries are Jack and Barbara Morrison, George and Joan Spicer, Ron and Essie Williams, David and Shelly Burke, Bob and Beth Barnhardt, Stephen and Vicki Linn, Frank and Tiffany Mapel, Kleber and Amanda Araujo, Jim and Virginia Martin, Mel and Becky Owen and Ben and Mindy Breed (30!).

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