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Forte: Heroic efforts lead to stunning venues

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Yakima Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lawrence Golan, performing at the Cave B Summer Music Theater, Aug. 20, 2017.

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Some might call it a heroic effort, that of developing into vineyards several hundred acres of land perched high above the Columbia River, near Quincy, roughly equidistant between Seattle and Spokane and six miles from the nearest paved road.

This was land known most intimately to the sage and grasses that grew there, and the animals, birds and insects that lived or traveled through there.

This was an effort of great determination over many years spent becoming as intimate with the land as the native flora and fauna were; four vinifera acres became 54 acres, which became a winery.

The intimacy generated through agriculture also developed an understanding of a unique architectural quality of the land, where words spoken at the bottom of the gorge on the property were heard clearly 1,000 feet up at the cliff top because of a natural bowl in the cliff walls.

Grape growers Vince and Carol Bryan were inspired to share this quality of amplification through musical performances, developing, in tandem with the vineyards, a simple wooden stage and a small audience of family and friends into what would become a world-class venue, the Gorge Amphitheatre, with audiences of 20,000. Per the Bryans, the land “elevated everything and everyone around it.”

In this way, through elevation, the land itself was a hero. People passing by on the interstate or overhead in planes could not know of this hero in their midst. But those intimate with the land, who grew grapes and built stages, had noticed that for their audiences, “Something special happened to people who attended concerts there. There was a palpable sense of peace, and community and latent creativity.”

In a 2014 article about heroes, “5 Surprising Ways That Heroes Improve Our Lives,” Scott T. Allison concludes that while people “need heroes because heroes save or improve lives and because heroes are inspiring,” they also “need heroes for surprising reasons that go beyond the direct benefits of heroic action.”

“Heroes elevate us emotionally; they heal our psychological ills; they build connections between people; they encourage us to transform ourselves for the better; and they call us to become heroes and help others.”

From heroic effort came recognition of the hero that is now the land surrounding the Bryan’s newest stage, the Cave B Summer Music Theater. Last summer, when the Yakima Symphony Orchestra 
inaugurated the theater’s stage with a heroic, all-
Beethoven concert, a 
brilliant red sunset exploded across the sky.

The YSO will bring Beethoven and another musical hero, John Williams, to Cave B on June 24 to elevate us, connect us to one another and celebrate the venue’s transformation from sage-covered scablands to exquisite concert hall.

• This column was written by the Yakima Symphony Orchestra staff. Learn more at

If you go

WHAT: Summer Sunday Symphonies with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra; “Epic Heroes: Beethoven Meets John Williams” on June 24, and “Battling Napoleon” on Aug. 19.

WHEN: 8 p.m. June 24

WHERE: The Cave B Summer Music Theater, 248 Silica Road NW, Quincy

TICKETS: Prices vary; check

TAKE THE BUS: Transportation on the Yakima Patrons Symphony Bus costs $20 (advance purchase and reservation required; order through the YSO office).


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