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Old 10-05-2007, 11:31 AM
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Default Special Orchestra Wins World Class Service Award by Making Magic Happen

Special Orchestra Wins World Class Service Award
For Making Special Magic Happen
T.G. Platt - WebMaster and Online Publisher - Steppin' Out New Mexico

Socorro, NM - A few days ago I had occasion to visit the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque. It was a busy day with nearly 70,000 attendees at the fairgrounds. What I most remember about the day was the moment while wandering from one venue to another when I witnessed a short vignette between a mother and her downs-syndrome afflicted daughter. The mom was clearly in a rush to get somewhere. The girl - who looked fascinated, intimidated and confused by the noise and hubbub around her - was shuffling along slowly, and seemed in no hurry at all.

The mom soon realized the girl was dropping behind. So, she grabbed her daughter's hand and set out again at the same fast pace as before... thus effectively dragging her slow-moving child behind her. I felt sorry for the girl whose countenance instantly changed from fascinated and intimidated to sullen, embarrassed and humiliated as her chin dropped to her chest and she continued to shuffle along behind her mom at a not-much-faster pace than before. Seconds later they vanished into the crowd.

For hours afterwards I found myself marveling at the difference between the emotions I saw on that girl's face that day and those I'd seen on the faces of similar kids weeks before as I watched the New Mexico Special Orchestra play music, sing, and perform before a live audience at the Albuquerque Folk Festival. On the glowing and smiling faces of the Special Orchestra kids, I saw laughter and pride and joy and the pleasure of collective achievement as they basked in the experience of being the center of attention of an appreciative and supportive audience who applauded their performance and howled their approval.

The vast gulf separating that vignette between the mother and daughter and the young people who participated in that unforgettable Folk Festival Concert haunted me. In the end, it lead me to fully appreciate the remarkable effect being a part of New Mexico Special Orchestra has on both the young performers and the audiences who are lucky enough to see the magic happen. Despite their undeniable disabilities the Special Orchestra kids showed pride and pleasure and self-confidence and self-esteem that was impossible to overlook or deny. Being part of that unique collective musical experience had transformed those kids and given them something even their moms, dads and families might occasionally deny them... the chance to be proud of what they had done and to bask - if only for a moment - in the joy of making music together.

Then it dawned on me... That's what Special Orchestra's mission statement actually says, "To help special needs people share in the joy of making music."

Trust me, I've seen the miracle happen... Hidden somewhere in that Music is Powerful Magic!

Special Orchestra is the October / November 2007 recipient of Steppin' Out's World Class Customer Service Award. Congratulations, to Gair Linhart - the orchestra's founder and director, and to all the volunteers, contributors and musicians who help make Special Orchestra's 'special magic' happen!

Special thanks to Gair for all you do and for making the magic work!!

Readers who would like to learn more about this group and/or see the New Mexico Special Orchestra in action can see more photos and videos of the orchestra in live performances at their brand new web site:



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