Ward creates an impression at concert

My opinions are usually set to music, performed in "Lagunatics" each October. This one can't wait that long: "Impressive!"

Thursday night the Thurston Middle School and high school choruses performed their spring concert. It was impressive. Under the hand of vocal music teacher Roxanna Ward, the evening included a spectrum of choral, ensemble and solo music, most of which was written by Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim, chosen in celebration of his 80th year. It was a brave, potentially insane choice. Sondheim is a notoriously difficult musical technician, and a combative lyric genius for storytelling.

It would have been impressive just to expose all those young people to such rich, complex material — or to hear it executed accurately. But to present nearly two hours of nuanced, beautifully accomplished performance? Sweet, tender moments — grand, thick chords — the stunning grasp of the material by so many young singers? Impressive. The match of material to talent was inspired, not the least of which was Ward herself at the piano. An established professional performer in her own right, Ward brought in others to give additional, focused direction to the students. Professional singers, directors, actors, came in at her request, volunteers sharing their proficiency with students perfectly primed to absorb instruction, direction and inspiration.

Roxanna's a big player in our little town. Although she performs almost exclusively outside 92651, she musical directs shows with all our theaters, teaches vocal charts to various groups, works with other professionals, including me, to fine tune material. But she is really having an impact on lives at our schools. It's not enough to have kids singing, memorizing or performing. They need to be educated. Ward is teaching the language of music, the skills of vocal production, the connection of intellectual material to public expression, and the reward of genuine accomplishment. Curriculum and life skills.

We are led to believe that teachers in our district are degreed, credentialed and/or "teaching in their field." Don't believe it. The Emperor's New Clothes are paraded before trusting parents with regularity. Ward, however, is a teaching artist. Fully clothed, and turning out kids who are enthusiastically soaking up her expertise. Ward and a hundred kids who worked hard to learn and perform more and better than they could have imagined was possible. Impressive. Very, very impressive.

BREE BURGESS ROSEN

Laguna Beach

Hano over-quoted in article

No question, Barbara Diamond has done a outstnding job for more than 25 years, but please, the meeting with the [city manager] search person had much more to say than what Arnold Hano said. He sat all during the meeting with his head in his hand becuse he didin't like what he was hearing and for me most speakers (and there was a bunch) indicated in soft tones that things must change at City Hall.

ROGER CARTER

Laguna Beach

Missing Kawaratani

I think it's a terrible shame you don't have Steve Kawaratani's column. I was a steady reader of his column for many years; it was often the first thing I turned to when opening your paper each week. I've been a Laguna Beach resident and an avid gardener for many years.

I have no interest in reading the paper's new gardening column. Laguna Beach has a special climate, ambiance and culture...I may as well rely on the Sunset Editor's "Western Garden Book" now. I don't need to read a column written by someone in another town.

Also, Kawaratani was always writing, sometimes directly and other times indirectly, about the Laguna Beach lifestyle, which is a unique thing, and which is part of the charm of living in this town. My friends here in Laguna are in complete agreement with me. We're very sad about the loss of one more unique cultural icon of this town.

SANDRA WINIESKI

Laguna Beach

Bus use solves parking problem

Regarding Penny Poorman's letter ["Tickets discourage tourists," June 11] about parking in Laguna. I have a very simple solution for her: Take the bus. Laguna has a perfectly adequate local daytime bus service. I use it frequently and I find it very convenient and cheap.

No parking nonsense, and the drivers are pleasant and willing to talk. Ride the bus and makes some new friends.

It's paid for out of your parking fees, so you might as well get value for what you paid.

One less car clogging up downtown Laguna is good for all of us and the environment. Join Transition Laguna's Mobility Group if you have opinions about traffic in Laguna.

Visit http://www.transitionlaguna.org and go to the blog. Find Mobility Group. Post your e-mail in the comments box.

CHARLES ALBAN

Laguna Beach

Looking for Blackberry owner

A Blackberry has been found at Deez Bar & Grill in Qualicum Beach, British Columbia. Apparently it has been here for a couple of weeks and was just recently charged enough to be able to retrieve the phone number details. However, when called, the message indicates that "This phone does not accept incoming calls." Additionally, as it's a cell number, it is not listed, but it is a Laguna Beach phone number with the prefix 949-295-XXXX.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how the owner of this Blackberry can be found? We have no additional ID due to its being locked. The contact number for Deez Bar & Grill is (250) 752-8055. Please ask for the owner, Dee, or one of her staff who would all love to find the owner to this Blackberry and send it on its way homeward. The owner can identify their phone by giving the correct phone number when they contact Deez.

DONNA WICKSTROM

British Columbia

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