Copyright © 1998 Henrietta W. Hay
My Granddaughter in Aspen
There are two worlds in which I have not had much experience: the
world of granddaughters and the world of great music. By the time I
acquired a granddaughter she lived so far away that I seldom saw her and
didn't really know her, and I am still woefully unversed in good
music.. But last week those two worlds came together.
In a way it all started 50 years ago.
Late in June, 1949, I sat in the big Music Tent in Aspen and listened to
the beautiful music of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, the first
time such sounds had ever floated out over those mountains. The
occasion was the Goethe Bicentennial Convocation, and the first
performance of the Aspen Music Festival. As I sat there, it never
occurred to me that some day I might have a personal reason to listen to
music in the big tent.
Now, nearly fifty years later music has brought my only granddaughter to
Aspen, to study at that same Music Festival. Pamela is a highly
talented opera singer who just finished her junior year at Peabody
Conservatory of Music. Through the years I have found it almost
impossible to believe that a descendent of mine could have such a
wonderful singing voice, but I know it is true. I was in the audience in
1993 when she made her debut with the Houston Grand Opera Company at the
age of 15. Now, nearly 21, she is spending the summer studying opera at
the Aspen Music Festival and School.
She flew in to Grand Junction from Houston last week, not the child
that I remembered, but a beautiful, mature young woman. The next day my
friend the philosopher and I took her to Aspen, an adventure for all of
us. The world famous Music School is not too easy to find, nor is it a
part of Aspen glitz. It is nestled back on a hillside and is strictly
While Pamela was registering, we watched the students milling
around. These young people are among the finest musicians in the
United States. They were there from all over the country, dressed
mostly in shorts and wild T shirts with multi-colored backpacks. They
were a little unsure about the procedure of registering and arranging
living quarters, but they were very sure about one thing. They have
tremendous talent and are going to succeed. They know it. Pamela
A major change from my first visit to Aspen in 1949 is that at least
half of the musicians are women. What a wonderful change has taken
place in 50 years, and how glad I am that Pamela can benefit from it.
At that time there were very few women artists in town. The Minneapolis
Symphony was listed as a 90 man orchestra. The only women named in the
program were two singers and a violinist. Then it would have been
unheard of for a 20-year old female to travel alone and spend the summer
studying music in a remote little mountain town. Today women are free
to travel anywhere, to perfect and exercise their talents, and to
follow their dreams, whatever they may be.
Pamela's passion for music, brought her here to the mountains which I
love so much. The theme for the Aspen Music Festival this year
features this quotation from Hessiod (8th century B.C). "Let us begin
to tell of the muses, singing with blended voices of the things that are
and will be and were before us."
We had 24 hours as two women, more than 60 years apart in age, meeting
as equals. We discovered that the generations have a great deal in
common. It was as though we were singing with blended voices. Her
form of creativity and mine met and we understood each other.
She has amazing self-confidence and a complete dedication to her art.
The stars in her eyes are beautiful to see. I don't know where her
dreams will take her, but I hope she has pleasure in them and never
loses her passion for her music.