Revamped Avalon, with symphony, can be crown jewel of Main Street

By Roger Davidson

Physicist David Bohm, prot&233;g&233; of Albert Einstein, spoke of matter as frozen light and music as “pure implicate order.” The implicate order being the subtle quantum energy from which, according to Bohm, all experience springs.

Philosopher Susanne Langer proposed that language arose from singing, and that singing arose from spontaneous expressions of ecstasy and joy. And Plato said that if he could choose the music young people listen to and performed, he could determine the society they would bring about.

What better way to express the value of a symphony orchestra to our community than the comments above. Moving the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra concerts from Grand Junction High School to the rejuvenated Avalon Theatre, as envisioned by Westlake, Reed and Leskosky, would add a new level of cultural development to Grand Junction and western Colorado.

Westlake, Reed and Leskosky is the consulting architectural firm, hired jointly by the Downtown Development Authority and the Grand Junction Symphony, to put together a cohesive plan to restore the Avalon Theatre into a first rate, multi-use performance venue.

Here’s some evidence of the importance of symphonies to other communities.

Nancy Wood, executive director of the Noblesville Symphony Orchestra, recently wrote an article: “The Noblesville Symphony Orchestra in 3 Movements.” The article is accessible at

Noblesville, Ind., has an approximate population of 43,000, very similar to Grand Junction. An excerpt from Part 2 of Wood’s article, “What a Symphony Brings to a Community,” quotes Boston Conservatory faculty member and director of the music division, Karl Paulnack, at a welcoming address to new freshman and their parents:

“I have come to understand that music is not a part of ‘arts and entertainment’ as the newspaper section would have us believe. It’s not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers of our budgets, not a plaything or an amusement or a pass time. Music is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we cannot with our minds.”

In talking to Linda Clement, development director for the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, located in Sioux Falls, S.D., I learned that two of the community’s medical centers are major contributors to the symphony. The medical centers indicate that a strong arts development, including a symphony orchestra, is essential to attract top medical talent to the Sioux Falls region.

Sioux Falls recently completed an overhaul of its performance hall. Since then, ticket sales have soared, additional performances had to be scheduled and the merchants in the vicinity have enjoyed increased revenue.

I have received copies of 10 letters written to the North Carolina Symphony, from business firms, expressing their appreciation and support. Here are some excerpts:

✓ “When businesses consider where to locate, cultural diversity and educational quality are at the top of the list. The Symphony is a key ingredient in both.” — Parker and Poe.

✓ “It should be firmly established in the eyes and ears of government support just what the Arts — particularly ‘classical music’ — bring to the education of a child: persistence in tackling problems, observational acuity, expressive clarity, relative capacity to question and to judge, ability to envision alternative possibilities ... Students who take four years of music in high school score 100 points better on the SAT, are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, three times more likely to attend school. Music education does this.” — North Carolina State University.

✓ “The N.C. Symphony enriches communities across our state and is a strong business recruitment tool. When businesses are looking to relocate, one factor they consider is the strength of the arts community. Companies want to relocate to a place that will offer their employees a diverse plate of interesting and engaging cultural activities.” — Progress Energy.

When CVS Caremark was considering a corporate headquarters move, one of the areas considered was Nashville, Tenn. The Nashville Symphony was actively involved in meeting with the company, explaining what Caremark employees could expect in the way of arts involvement. One of the key points for CVS Caremark in moving to the Nashville area was the Nashville Symphony and its new performance hall. As a result, CVS Caremark moved approximately 1,000 employees to the Nashville area, and contributed $2 million to the symphony’s “A Time For Greatness” campaign.

Alan D. Valentine, president and CEO of the Nashville Symphony, said: “There is much more to the story of economic development as it relates to the Symphony.  We were instrumental in the relocation of Nissan North America as well as a number of others.  Every time a corporate relocation client is in town, the Chamber of Commerce staff brings them to tour our facility, and if they are in town for the evening, they often attend one of our concerts.”

I am the former owner of a multi-city personnel service. I can attest to the importance of having a strong arts community when trying to relocate personnel from a large metro area to a smaller community.

I want to propose an affirmation or mantra for the reborn Avalon: “The new Avalon: Crown jewel at Seventh and Main.”

Let’s add more “Grand” to Grand Junction.

Roger Davidson is first vice president of the Grand Junction Symphony board of directors.


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