Kay Merriam

Kay Merriam

Julie Sorensen, who began her time at Idaho State University in 2011, has since been given permanent status as artistic director and conductor of the Idaho State-Civic Symphony. She has also proven to be a champion. At the time she arrived here, there were only a small number of females throughout our entire country who held the position of conductor. So to summarize: the leader of our musical efforts has proven to be a splendid member of the few.

She has worked with students to help them attain paths toward virtuosity while in addition she has brought our Symphony Orchestra steadily upward. On Dec. 6 and 7, she will lead the ISU Symphony Orchestra in a series of tunes dedicated to “Joy to the World” and other tunes related to this beautiful time of the year. The program will take place in the Stephens Performing Arts Center at ISU and begin at 7:30 p.m. each night.

The Camerata Singers and the ISU Choir have performed for many years and have always been on key, had friendly smiles and an important ability to sing at many levels.

The symphony orchestra has had a range of conductors who were all males ranging from OK to excellent. However, with the arrival of this talented woman, the orchestra has not only blossomed, but has actually soared with each instrument showing its best.

For me, the most notable aspect of any symphony orchestra is the ability to make use of nuance. That is, the sound of the instruments can be brought down to the softest or up to the strongest, depending on the expression called for in the music. I have always loved the ability to bring nuance to musical interpretation and have witnessed it in orchestras from one side of our country to the other and beyond.

However, when I have asked about that ability to ISU conductors who were in charge before Julie Sorensen, they have spent their time giving me a lesson related to how difficult it is to nuance. Not this woman however. Not only has she perfected her skills but makes use of nuance when it is called for.

Today, as I write this, the sky is verging on white and Thanksgiving Day is almost upon us. But to get on with the holiday feeling can take one of two feelings: it can wrap us into a knot or give us a warm, welcome feeling about what will come next.

So to focus on the second holiday feeling given above, let the Christmas music begin with the bright colors of home and yard sparkling beneath a grey or black sky and a parade showering candy upon both children and adults, we can start our enthusiasm. Beyond those, however, let’s have the Christmas music settle our nerves as we step back from our lists of wanted gifts and focus on an evening of music.

In addition, giving a gift that clearly shows your caring may go much farther than a gift based on money, money, money. You may see this as being without generosity, but something that shows your efforts such as a photograph or a drawn picture of a bird, flower, or deer can say strongly “I love you.”

Lately, I have been reading educational papers written over 50 years ago. These papers have described climate change in a way very close to the descriptions we read today. The obvious problem is that we are still at just about the same level in our understanding as we were then.

I mention this because, as with so many things, ideas, studies and plans, we sometimes look at them and think, “Yeah, I should do that someday.” But time goes by, we get older and then old, but in the meantime, we still hold onto the idea that gifts are entirely classified by the amount of money spent on them.

So just once give it a try: take your children, other relatives or good friends to enjoy “Joy to the World,” and also do something such as those ideas given above. Why? Well, they show you are willing to spend time, accomplish something all by yourself you have made, done, or written.

They probably won’t end up in a museum, but will remain in the hearts of those who received them. As said by some food advertisements, “Try it, you’ll like it.” And so will the recipient of your gift.

Kay Merriam of Pocatello has a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut. She was the president of the state League of Women Voters for two years and president of the Pocatello chapter for two years as well. She was the president of the Bannock County Planning and Zoning Committee for 11 years and on the Pocatello-Chubbuck District 25 School Board for six years.