Gene Collins says it’s time to unplug and reset.
As the calendar turned to the fifth month of 2018 earlier this week, Collins, or any of his fellow Americans, could’ve turned a dial to talk radio on a given day, or flipped channels to a cable news station, and found the voices there to be just as loud and argumentative as ever.
If only, one might wish, some voices like those would stop to work together, on something like the sound of music.
Collins and the rest of the Midland-Odessa Symphony and Chorale are trying to do just that, at least for one evening, presenting their ‘Celebrating Our Heroes’ event May 12 at the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center.
The MOSC orchestra and chorale is set to perform along with the Voices of the Permian Basin youth choir, to present an event honoring local veterans, military members and first responders, featuring a performance of ‘Lincoln Portrait,’ narrated by Collins.
“I think it’ll be something special,” said Collins, who’s been with MOSC for more than 30 years and is a local NAACP representative and an Odessa Development Corporation board member.
“We have great first responders here who are called upon to do extraordinary things, and we want them to know how much we appreciate them.”
Tickets are available at MOSC.org.
The featured ‘Lincoln Portrait’ is an orchestral work composed by Aaron Copeland in 1942, which is narrated with the readings of excerpts from Abraham Lincoln’s speeches, including the Gettysburg Address.
Collins, who will be doing that narration in this rendition, said the May 12 performance has been in the works for more than a year.
“I think for Americans who have experienced such divisive language, on both sides, and even third sides, even foreign governments — I think this would be uplifting to their souls and maybe give them a recharge as to what this nation really stands for and how it came to be the great nation that it is,” Collins said this week, looking ahead to the event.
“Somehow or another, those principles are getting lost in the dialogue, as we’re talking past each other and not to each other.”
The concert is set to be opened by the Odessa Fire Rescue Honor Guard, with the Odessa Fire Rescue Pipe and Drum Corp.
Organizers have provided more than 100 complimentary tickets to veterans, active military members and first responders who were nominated for invitations.
Collins said he’s excited about the project because the way the music uses different sounds and tones to work together can be representative of how members of a nation can find ways to work together, or how military members and first responders operate together in concert.
“Music takes the diversity of numerous voices and instruments and blends them together to make something special,” he said. “A lot of times when we look at the contributions of our first responders, they’re doing that too. They bring in a diverse set of values and abilities.”
Doors are set to open at 6:30 p.m. the day of the show, before the event begins at 7:30 p.m.
“The words of Abraham Lincoln … they are somewhat prophetic, somewhat spiritual,” Collins said. “To understand what he meant to the country during a very critical time, and to bring that in even today with the divisiveness we have, I think is very, very important also.
“He addresses the soul of the nation, the challenges thereof,” Collins continued. “He goes even deeper into a spiritual evaluation, and he does it in such a way that people are drawn like a magnet to his words. You feel that you’re in the presence of greatness, just listening to these words, because they’re so deep within the principles of our nation, and the dream of our nation at that particular time.”
- What: Midland-Odessa Symphony and Chorale’s ‘Celebrating Our Heroes.’
- When: 7:30 p.m. May 12.
- Where: Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center.
- Tickets: MOSC.org