Monday, June 21, marked the first day of summer, but even more significantly was also “Make Music Day,” a world-wide celebration of music. And this year, Darke County Center for the Arts coordinated our community’s entry into that multi-national ensemble, extolling music and so much more, leaving a lasting joyous memory to savor while we happily anticipate Make Music Darke County 2022 and beyond.
Make Music Day, which is celebrated on the summer solstice around the world, began in 1982, when France launched its first “Fete de la Musique.” DCCA Executive Director Andrea Jordan learned of the event at about the same time that opportunities for presenting arts events at which audiences could actually gather began to appear, providing another motivation for celebrating. After enlisting the enthusiastic approval of DCCA’s Board of Trustees, Andrea and DCCA Artistic Director David Warner got to work, creating something wonderful which they hope will become a long local tradition of honoring music.
Noting the benefits of celebrating and promoting the arts in communion with 120 countries and numerous cities nationwide, local officials proudly proclaimed June 21, 2021, “Make Music Day” in our community, On the day itself, Greenville’s Mayor Stephen Willman along with City Council President John Burkett presented to DCCA officials documents recognizing Make Music Darke County, a ceremony immediately followed by the Darke County Employee Choir assembling on the court house steps. This enthusiastic chorus, all decked out in red, white, and blue except for Deputy Sheriff Ron Beisner wearing his uniform, waved flags and sang patriotic songs with sincere joy and enthusiasm, unexpectedly bringing lumps to the throats and tears to the eyes of assembled on-lookers. The Choir was organized by the afore-mentioned Deputy Beisner, who decided to get people to sing together to recognize coworkers’ birthdays, retirements, and other special events, ultimately bringing people together in more ways than one while symbolizing the purpose and theme of Make Music Darke County.
The Choir performance was but one of the many delights of Make Music Darke County 2021. Flutist Tami Tennison and clarinetist Mike Houser perform together as 2-4-U; their lilting melodies opened the lunch-time festivities on Greenville Public Library lawn. Then, Providence Road, husband and wife duo Jerry and Chris Asbury — talented professional musicians who recently moved near Union City — happily communicated to others through the universal language of music. Retired social worker Kim Bohler has loved bringing joy through music since she was a child, and continued to do so with her delightful delivery of classical and Celtic selections played on the flute. The Library lawn session concluded with Percussion Storytime, as Children’s Librarian Miss Joanna read a book to the enthusiastic accompaniment of percussive instruments played by youngsters in the audience.
Make Music Darke County 2021 moved to YOLO Park for an evening session that got off to a rollicking start with long-time favorite local musician Joseph Helfrich whose belief that music is the speech of the soul motivates his performances. The talented Joseph was followed by 15-year-old Carter Qualls, whose masterful singing and picking demonstrated his innate linkage to the wonderful power of music. Another example of our inherent connection to music, Katelyn Hanes, who will begin studying vocal performance at Wright State University this fall, then contributed further dimension to this celebration with her lovely voice and graceful presence.
Peggy Emerson, president of Darke County Chamber of Commerce, was joined by her son-in-law, guitarist Zach Reynolds, to enthusiastically proclaim her love of music, singing beloved traditional songs accompanied by her autoharp. Darke County Health Department inspector Zachary Perry made his debut as a hip hop artist, serving as his own songwriter and producer to share his musical message; Zach’s performance and all others at YOLO Park were enhanced by sound equipment provided by Michael Gulley, Zach’s stepfather.
Make Music Darke County 2021 closed with a drum circle, a moving meditation with singing, drumming, and dancing by Leah Lines, Shelly Acker, Stacie Williams, and Cindy Compton; the inspiring performance instinctively connected not only to humanity, but also to the earth and its environment, appropriately harmonizing with the wisdom and beauty of the universe, like the force of music itself — a universal benefit to humankind.