A View from Glen Hill: Gifts keep coming at tribute to a treasure in our community

All of us who filled the Clune Center to capacity this past Saturday received an enormous gift: the privilege of joining with the Brubeck family in a Wilton community celebration of Dave’s life and music. Dave’s presence was surely treasured in our community for far more than his worldwide celebrity. We appreciated enormously his great warmth and joy in living and his example of a life well-lived in every respect.

His wife Iola’s opening remembrance set the perfect tone for a joyous yet reflective evening as she so beautifully expressed what this community means to Dave and her and to their family: a place to rest and recharge, to create and inspire, to raise a family in a bucolic setting where, with their house as a firm home base, their kids could run through fields and by streams with their friends in close-knit groups (with friendships continuing to this day), where a Halloween trick-or-treating visit might turn into an impromptu concert, where a father busy with a performance life around the world — and as an ambassador of peace and love wherever he went — still made time to be a devoted dad at home.

And whether it was his own children, or neighborhood kids, or illustrious colleagues like Paul Winter, Dave was always available in his calm, gentle and steady way, to bring a perspective, give encouragement, and offer sage advice. Paul spoke of Dave’s role as mentor to him and mentioned a time when he was struggling to find a way to blend a demanding life on the road with family life. So he came here, finding Dave working on a fence for a play area for his kids. Dave’s response to Paul’s question was this: Find a place here, do your hundred concerts a year, be where there is peace yet vibrancy and where by car or air you can be close to many key venues both in the U.S. and in Europe yet have a sanctuary also for you and your family. So Paul heeded Dave’s advice and example and moved to Weston, where he found that Dave’s prescription worked very well indeed!

Amongst further moving reflections and a video tribute, Dave’s sons Darius, Chris and Dan took the stage, as did their friends Mike DeMicco, Taylor Eigsti, Eugene Friesen, Russell Gloyd, Mary Bozzuti-Higgins, Dianne Mower, Patrick Taylor, and Paul Winter, joined by the Wilton Singers, our high school Madrigals, and the St. Matthew’s choir, performing a concert that those of us present, from senior citizens to third grade choristers, will treasure our whole lives. Compositions of Dave’s ranging from those works that took a niche field of jazz to the centerstage of America’s — and indeed the world’s — musical life, to sacred choral music that has enriched so many congregations (Wilton’s definitely included), to a love song to Iola (In Your Own Sweet Way) and one also to the sole daughter among a bustling family of Brubeck boys (Kathy’s Waltz).

There was a second concert this past weekend, the Paul Winter Consort performing on Sunday as part of the Arts at St. Matthew’s series. On stage with Paul were two colleagues who had also graced the Clune Center stage the previous evening: Chris Brubeck on his magnificent trombone and the extraordinary cellist Eugene Friesen. Before a full house, in an evening filled with Paul’s exquisite soprano sax and his remarkable Consort, joined by St. Matthew’s adult, youth and children’s choirs and also the voices of wolves, whales and seals who are always part of the Consort’s accompaniment, Paul expressed the joyousness of life as well as the mysticism that pervades the ineffable and fills our world so completely that even the creatures of the wild freely join their voices in the song of life: of joy, of hope, of love.

One of the works performed was a hauntingly beautiful setting of Ubi Caritas: “Where charity and love prevail, there God is ever found; united as one body we, by love are we thus bound.” His closing piece, Common Ground, was sung by all, audience and choir alike: “In a circle of friends, in a circle of sound, all our voices will blend when we touch common ground.” Likewise, the absolutely perfect concluding choral piece for the community celebration of Dave was God’s Love Made Visible with lyrics by Iola: “God’s love made visible, incomprehensible. He is invincible. His love shall reign!”

They formed a truly fitting conclusion to a weekend of bittersweet celebration in tribute to a life so well lived, with the essence expressed by these works always as its joyous centerpiece.

Mr. Hudspeth lives on Glen Hill Road.