Blog Editor Alina Celeste recaps our most recent International Conference.
Our annual conference was just a few weeks ago, and I am still singing, dancing and smiling in my heart. This yearly gathering of song, support, learning and boundless love is such a unique, unmissable event! To be surrounded by fellow musicians and educators is to feel that you are among friends even if you have never met.
Los Gatos was soggier than expected this year, but we know the rain was much-needed in parched California! We all sloshed merrily about with colorful, polka-dotted umbrellas that some enterprising soul brought and sold as a CMN fundraiser. The yearly bake-walk was a delicious hit, Dave Kinnoin’s famous chocolate chip cookies were joined by many other wonderful delicacies, like raw coconut cookies, pumpkin cranberry cookies and rice crispy treats galore. There were many conversations, songs and laughs shared over the short three days we spent at the charming Presentation Center.
A few highlights from this year in Los Gatos:
Friday night kicked off with a Shabbat, a Contra-dance and the first half of our Round Robin. Saturday morning the workshops began, followed by this year’s Keynote Speaker, the incomparable Vocal Activist Melanie DeMore, who roused and enlightened us all with her wisdom and compassion. As she reminded us, the hero is the one, like Harriet Tubman, who finds the light and then turns back and brings others to it. We sang with her and learned from her.
More workshops followed in the afternoon. A popular one this year was with member and ventriloquist Val Smalkin, also Jane Cobb gave a fascinating and often moving masterclass on fostering attachment in infants with music. After dinner, several members donated their time for mentoring sessions on topics as far reaching as working with children on the autism spectrum, starting a YouTube channel and setting up tours. Saturday night we continued the endlessly (ehem) entertaining Round Robin – our member showcase. I never fail to learn a new song, or to be unexpectedly moved by someone’s work.
Sunday morning we had one more round of workshops – one more chance to learn something new. Member Jackson Gillman gamely stepped in at the last minute for a presenter with a canceled flight and taught a wonderful class on creating a seamless performance.
After the final workshops, we gathered together for our Magic Penny ceremony. This year’s recipient was Jose Luis Orozco. We spent a wonderful and inspiring morning celebrating his work with him and many of his closest friends and family. He graced us with his humor and his song.
We finished with our closing circle. It is hard to leave the warmth and harmonies behind, but the strength I gain from each conference stays with me for the next year, reminding me that there are others who have devoted their lives to children and music and they are there to help, guide and listen, whenever needed.
What are some of your favorite memories from this year??