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For the week of Oct. 20, 1999 through Oct. 26, 1999

Great music and all that jazz

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

Although my druthers would be a night of Gershwin and Porter or John Williams in the hands of a huge orchestra, count me as an amazed onlooker to last week’s Sun Valley Swing ‘n’ Dixie Jazz Jamboree.

Having been dragged to the festival’s free kickoff community jazz concert at the inside ice rink at Sun Valley Resort and expecting the worst, it was a delight to see and hear classics performed robustly as jazz by large brass and percussion groups to a packed, standing-room-only house.

And for those who didn’t hear this, here’s an eye-opener—the festival is now attracting more and more 20-somethings, just behind the largest group, the over-60s.

So, here’s the festival attracting approximately 7,200 paying jazz aficionados for five days from all over to hear some two dozen jazz groups (including ones from France and Germany), and the weekend before attracting thousands to see the "Trailing off the Sheep."

Add that to the summer symphony series, Wagon Days, Boulder Mountain Tour cross-country racing, the Writer’s Conference, and heaven knows how many other events and the Wood River Valley can properly claim to be a major year-round hot spot.

And don’t forget the skiers and bikers.

There’s a broader point that can be made of all this.

And that is all these events that have a following are not only successful because of their intrinsic quality, but also because of the settings where they’re produced.

Virtually all these annual productions are set in venues and locales where visitors can see natural environmental grandeur at every turn.

And that is something to never forget.

Without the pure air, the stunning scenery, the uncluttered and unhurried lifestyle, most of these events would lose their charm and appeal, and in time, would lose their following.

This should be a permanent fixture in the thinking of the area’s civic, business and political leaders, who make decisions that affect the character and direction of the Wood River Valley.

Whoever wrote the preamble to the city of Ketchum’s "Dark Sky Ordinance" has accidentally given the community a credo by which to live.

In the whereas and therefore paragraphs, the law avers that "the people who live in and near Ketchum value the natural environment" and are "economically dependent upon tourists" and "dependent upon its natural resources and environment. . . ."

Although written for the "Dark Sky Ordinance," that’s nevertheless a credo that should be memorized and recited whenever proposals are made that could transform Sun Valley and Ketchum into something it shouldn’t be—something that would create irreversible damage to the natural environment and natural resources around which the area’s economy as well as lifestyle are built.

Pat Murphy is the retired publisher of the Arizona Republic and a former radio commentator.


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