The Teton Orchestra and Grand Fun in Idaho Falls!

You know, when I wrote “Simply” for M. S. all those years ago, who knew that someday it would be arranged and orchestrated and performed in the Teton mountains?
I mean, honestly, I was just a young girl, in love, wanting to sing about my heart’s desire, bursting to be shared.

So, Saturday night was just icing on the cake and the tastiest icing I can recall in quite some time!

Eric Wenstrom, the arranger/conductor who took the bull by the horns…
My music being the bull, not me! I’m not bullish! I’m more of a ringed tail lemur, I think…
Eric orchestrated “Birdhouse”, “Two Days Today”, “When I Fall in Love”, “Edward”, “To A Maddening Ghost,” “Simply”, “Romania”, “We Are Each Others’ Angels”, “Joy”, “Just One Race” and Kristin’s beautiful version of John McVey’s song, “Shadow of a Doubt” and did a fantastic job.

Friday morning at 8:00 am, Eric drove Kristin and me to Rigby, about 20 minutes outside of Idaho Falls, to work with his junior high orchestra. Eric had helped them work up my song “EDWARD”, the song i wrote for Lance. I must have heard, “Mr. Wenstrom, can you help tune my violin?” or “Mr. Wenstrom, do you know where…” about 80 times before we went out into the practice room…it was hilarious! This is one loved dude, I tell you what! And then the kids performed “Edward” while Kristin and I sang it, and I couldn’t stop smiling. I was smiling so hard that at one point I couldn’t even SING! After they played, we stayed and I talked about the music industry and covered the dry erase board with numbers and figures in conjunction with getting an advance, being on a major label, where the money goes, what “recoupment” and “perpetuity” mean, etc.
And Kristin sang a beautiful song a capella and talked about being a side person and what that means, and I answered questions about downloading and why I wrote “Cantaloupe”. Good, good fun!

Friday night, during rehearsal with the adult orchestra, I got very choked up during one of the songs. It just sounded surreal to be standing in the middle of an orchestra, watching Eric raise his hands, and hearing a full blown version of an idea that had once only been nestled in my heart. And everyone kept asking who “Edward” was since I’m married to Lance, so I had to explain that Edward is Lance’s middle name, and I didn’t really want to write a love song to Lance’s name (too easy: Lance, dance, pants, chance…you see where I’m going with this…) so I chose his middle name, Edward. Much more sophisticated, I thought, back when we were dating and I wanted to give him a new version of “Simply”….

SHOWTIME: Althought the audience seemed timid and conservative at first, we just kept showering them with love and grace until they cracked under the immense joy! I even went out in the audience and sang “Edward” to a kind man named Shawn, because I thought it would be fun to sing it to a single man, sitting alone, who reminded me of Lance (since he couldn’t be there) and Eric and the symphony thought that would be really hilarious. During the instrumental break on the song, I leaned over to Shawn and whispered, “Dance with me?” and he popped up out of his seat and we turned circles in the aisle. Then, I whispered, “Ok, thank you… you can sit back down… I have to sing now!” and he did, and I finished out the song. Ha ha ha, that was a joy, I tell you! (Later found out he was married to this fantastic woman in the orchestra, so that was another good laugh!)

The symphony did a very good job…it is a volunteer community sypmphony, and I just find that so cool. How awesome that people come together and read charts and make MUSIC as a group of strangers. That’s just wild! And what a BLESSING each person was…Everyone was so enthusiastic and everywhere I looked, someone was smiling back at me from their chair. People playing bassoon, french horn, oboe, clarinet, a viola section, a violin section (I stood right by the first chair—super nice fella!), cellos and a double bass/electric bassist named Chris (who is also internationally known for building double basses) and trumpets and trombones and a drummer! My goodness! We were only missing lions and tigers and bears! Someone even played chimes, which was incredibly haunting, during the extended intro Eric wrote for “Romania”, which I have to admit was my favorite song of the night.

On “Romania”, I have slips of paper on each seat, waiting for the audience members, and the slip asks each person to stand for a country that we sing about in the song. As they hear the name of the country on their slip of paper, they are to stand and pray silently for the men, women and children of that country. So, those that get Romania stand the entire song, and watching from the stage, I saw one woman stand, then look sheepishly around, and sit right back down. I was singing at looking right at her, encouraging her with my head, nodding up Up UP! until she finally stood, and then all the other folks who had Romania, started to stand, too. Eventually, the entire audience was standing and praying in support of Somalia, China, India, North Korea, South Korea, Bosnia, Africa, South America…. it was so moving, I can’t hardly express it without getting teary eyed again right now.

And the most amazing thing is that after the show, after talking with and signing items, there was one man, still waiting, at the front of the stage, and I went over to meet him, and he had the biggest tears in his eyes, and he told me that “Romania” had moved his heart more than he could say. That he felt his life had been one of selfish thoughts and deeds, and that he wanted to change and make a difference in the world. He told me he was going to go home and start an email movement to get people to start praying for others around the world, and he wasn’t sure how he was going to do it, but that he wanted me to know that the song had really spoken to him.
I hugged him and hugged him and thanked him and I wanted to say I understood because I have been selfish too, and done selfish things, but I felt like this was an awakening for him, and I didn’t want to lessen the lesson he was sharing so tenderly with me. I wanted to just listen and support him in this awakening…My tears, hopefully, told him he is not alone… I suspect his world will expand exponentially now with this love enthused within him…!

So, let’s talk about Eric Wenstrom!
Eric was very, very nice and easy to work with—supportive and full of smiles. I could ask questions or disagree with a thought, and he was totally open to working with me about the songs. It was a creative relationship/experience from day one, first through his MP3 concepts of the songs, and through phone calls, and emails…Eric was always a true delight and I’m very excited to say that David Batteau and I will be going to Idaho Falls at some point because I asked Eric if he would be interested in helping to create orchestrated versions of songs that David and I want to create for July 4th, new songs and ideas for a new time, and Eric said CERTAINLY!!! So, David and I can’t wait to get there, sequester ourselves (sometime in 2009) and finish out what we started about three years ago… we just needed someone with Eric’s skill, talent and intuitiveness, and I feel like God provided the key link via Eric! A big WA-HOO here! Watch out! 2010 there will be a big event in Idaho Falls… a world premiere!

Oh, and back to Saturday night… there was also a CHOIR, too!!! Wow!!! I think there were 60 high school students in the choir… AND a group of 7 adults who are in a full time weekly choir, and they were gracious to come over to our hotel for an additional rehearsal on Saturday so we could practice “Birdhouse”, “Romania” and “We Are Each Others’ Angels”. I feel like I have a new family of friends in Idaho Falls… and Rigby, too!

i FILMED the event, which captured the music, so you will be able to watch and see what happened… it’s not an exciting piece of filmwork because I had to set the camera up in the back of the auditorium hall, but it captures the event nicely so you can hear and see what it would have been like if you had been there! In the back, with your popcorn and your enthusiasm, cheering us on, getting up and dancing in the aisles (like the two year old who came tumbling all the way down to the front of house, all giggles and smiles…)

At intermission, Kristin and I were literally mobbed by children and adults wanting to share hugs or have us sign ANYTHING… shirts, ticket stubs, pieces of paper… it was CRAZY! i just kept hugging and saying GOD BLESS YOU to every single person until the house lights started flashing for the second half of the program…

We received a standing ovation at the end, and then I surprised everyone by having all 1400 hundred (yes, 1400 HUNDRED PEOPLE CAME!!!) sing on a song dedicated to a little boy on crutches out in the audience who was living with cancer. His name was Landon, and what a big heart he has. He came up to me at intermission and told me he felt several of my songs would cheer up other children with cancer he had met at a summer camp… So we sang for Landon and children around the world… and then…

I invited up the junior high kids from Rigby…. I asked them to hop up on stage and sing “Your Red Wagon” with us to the audience…and, suddenly, there were about 120 teens all over the stage, singing and dancing, with the full choir and orchestra still on stage, the kids and choir dancing and shakin’ the house…

It was a BLAST!

Very tired now, but must finish laundry! (I’m back in Austin)

One Comment “The Teton Orchestra and Grand Fun in Idaho Falls!”

  • Sally



    We miss you! Come back soon and bring some of your wonderful Texas sunshine to warm us again in Idaho!

    One of the Sunnydales,


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