A welcome home

  • Andrea Miller<br>Enterprise features editor
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 11:57am

A plaque inside the Edmonds Center for the Arts reads “From cobwebs to a dream come true.”

The phrase honors the memory of Olympic Ballet Theatre co-founder John Wilkins, who died in 2003. A leading advocate for the performing- arts venue, his contribution now is being remembered through the naming of the John Wilkins Memorial Stage at the completed ECA.

“I was so honored that they (the community) wanted to do that,” said Helen Wilkins, John Wilkins’ wife and partner in the Olympic Ballet Theater, which has helped to raise more than $80,000 for the facility to date. “We’re grateful to the business community because the business community’s support is what keeps the arts going,” she said.

On Jan. 13, Olympic Ballet, along with Cascade Symphony Orchestra and the Sno-King Community Chorale, take to that very stage for a special collaborative event called “Coming Home.” With this performance, the three groups officially take their place at the ECA as resident community arts partners.

The program will feature CSO’s rendition of Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” Bizet’s “L’Arlesienne Suite #2” and Sousa’s “Stars &Stripes Forever.” The symphony also has raised more than $25,000 for the ECA, to name the orchestra pit for the group’s founder, Robert Anderson.

The chorale will present John Leavitt’s “Ose Shalom” (“The One Who Makes Peace”), Haydn’s “Achieved is the Glorious Work” and Hairston’s “In Dat Great Gittin’ Up Mornin’.” Chorale members and other community members have been raising funds as well to name a part of the facility after the chorale’s conductor, Frank DeMiero, a long-time figure in local music education and advocacy.

Craig McDonald, a tenor soloist with the chorale, described the event is an opportunity to see “musicians who do this for the love of the music, and the joy of sharing each other’s company.”

Olympic Ballet’s creative contribution will be the “Requiem to Name the John Wilkins Memorial Stage,” featuring the company’s young students dancing as “children of the light,” Helen Wilkins said. The theme of light was a natural choice for Wilkins to choreograph, because “John was a shining personality,” she said. “Everywhere he went there was a brighter room … he brought brightness into so many lives.”

After the individual performances, the three groups will join together for the finale, the Snow Scene from “The Nutcracker,” one of Olympic Ballet’s signature productions, which features a vocal element as part of Tchaikovsky’s musical arrangement.

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