Elegant and Hilarious!!
by Heidi Scanlon
The room was beautifully arranged, the tables elegantly set, and quiet music drifted through the room. The atmosphere was elegant and hushed, but anyone who was expecting a staid and somber retrospective was in for a surprise. This event contained more vaudeville than veneration, and the laughter made the luxurious atmosphere all the more enjoyable.
The program started out with Matt Harre providing us a thorough and fascinating history of the Forum's founding and evolution, detailing many of the different roles taken on by the generous individuals who made AMSF what it is today (and pointing out the odd fact that almost every role has in one form or another been taken on by the versatile and obviously very busy Anne Williams.)
AMSF President Joyce Morton provided introductory comments, introduced the board members, facilitated the annual business meeting, and introduced the star surprise guest of the evening: Rodger Ellsworth, who came all the way from his home in Plymouth, New Hampshire, to speak at the Anniversary event.
Rodger is a long-time friend of AMSF. In fact, the very first meeting of the Forum consisted of a lecture entitled "Performing for Pleasure," given by Rodger. But more important on this occasion than his friendship with the Forum is his long-time friendship with its founder. Rodger and Matt have been colleagues for years, a fact that gave Rodger plenty of ammunition with which to "roast" Matt. He did roast Matt, very thoroughly, and with great skill, accompanied by roaring laughter from those in attendance. Rodger's presence was a complete surprise to Matt, which may have been necessary. If Matt had warning, he might have avoided the event altogether!
The next presentation came from one of Matt's adult students, Tom Potter. Tom delivered a surprisingly hilarious reminiscing of the horrors of his childhood music lessons and how those horrors translate into the baggage carried by an adult music student. Translating his dry humor into newsletter format would be difficult, so your reporter will attempt only one line, in reference to expectations brought into his first adult lesson as he recalled being hit on the hands with a ruler for making a mistake at piano as a child. "After that experience, I was expecting some sort of torture to be a part of adult music lessons, so I was not at all surprised when Matt asked me to count out loud."
Tom's musings were followed by a song and dance routine by a group of Matt's students: Pat Onufrak, Tom Potter, Tom Haug, Jan Zischke, and
Jane Griffin. The group composed and recited a poem, accompanied by large cue cards to emphasize some key tenets of Matt's teaching:
Count . . . Relax . . . Feel . . . Breathe . . . Let go!
A skit featuring a typical piano duet lesson with Matt Harre was next, performed by Sue Suffae, Joyce Morton, and Tom Haug. The comedy that ensued had everyone laughing (and hoping that Sue was uninjured after a pratfall off the piano bench!)
The evening was concluded with a delicious dinner enjoyed at beautifully set tables, accompanied by more music from the outreach volunteers. Sue Suffae was master chef, assisted by Joyce Morton, and Carol Turkaly was responsible for the lovely table settings.
In the end, it was a wonderful event, both emotionally warming and humorously stimulating. I'll be certain to never miss an Adult Music Student Forum anniversary event. It was a delightful way to spend a Sunday afternoon!