Emery Community Arts Center Groundbreaking

June 23, 2010

Emery Community Arts Center Groundbreaking, University of Maine Farmington
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Attorney General Janet T. Mills

Nearly six decades ago the Emerys entered the life of this community.

Ted Emery – a high school teacher, freshman basketball coach, community leader, engaging director of the Pilgrim Fellowship, baritone, father of four, a person who was popular with students and parents alike.

I remember his confident smile; square-jawed, intelligent, self-composed, patient, teaching math to some of the most stubborn public school learners. It is from him that I learned the difference between an isoceles triangle, an equilateral triangle and a scalene (or “wicked crooked’) triangle; I learned that triangles are really in the makeup of all things, that they are everywhere, and that I needed to understand them and deal with them.

It is undoubtedly because of Mr. Emery that a number of my high school classmates did well later in life – that Roger Austin became a first class doctor, that Hugh Campbell became an engineer, Betty McCleary earning her MBA from Harvard, Alden Smith an appraiser, Sue Grant a successful businesswoman.

And because of him I got over my fear of math, so that I have been able to calculate billable hours and work on state budgets.

Later Mr. Emery, switching from town to gown, had an important role in upgrading faculty and programs at UMF. He chaired the combined math & science department (imagine, sort of like combining English and History), then served as Academic Vice President, and acting President at around the time Judith Sturnick arrived here.

He was part of dramatic changes on this campus.

At the same time, Marguerite Emery was the original ‘super woman’ – den mother, teacher, conductor, mother of four busy boys, choir mistress, I remember her pale arms waving in the air, baton tilted toward the sky, focused and always in charge; her smile rivaling her husband’s, she was enjoyable company, good natured but no nonsense, always on time and in tune,… brown hair pushed back behind the ears, defiant of bobby pins and makeup. And when she ever slept no one knew.

It is because of her that I still begin to harmonize when the National Anthem comes on before a ball game, going into my mid-alto default mode, second nature, enjoying it, still performing for Mrs. Emery.

She was part of the change in our growing hearts, a community icon, like our friends Bill & Irene Berry—good friends of the Emerys---who are here today.

Our community is rich in culture, far beyond its population and its geography, the expectations of the Delorme Atlas.

It has taken many dedicated hard working individuals to put this community on the map, to make it known to the wider world that we care and appreciate music, theater, visual and fine arts, that we have one of the best public school music departments in New England, that we are a place where every child learns strings, wind, percussion and song.

It has taken strong, talented and persistent people to create this culture:

Musicians like the Beacham family, the Gellers, the Sytsma’s, Joel and Patricia Hayden, Dennis Hayes and Karen McCann; Jane Parker, Steve Pane, Lily Funahashi, Phil Carlsen, Dan Woodward, Bruce Mcginnis, Steve Muise, Carol Shumway, Coleen Hickey, and all those who have taught, learned and played at UMF’s summer music camps and jazz camps.

It has taken theater professionals like Nick Scott, Deb Muise, Andy Southard, Jaynie Decker, Bobbie Hanstein, Dan Ryder and, for many years, Randy Emery, Ted & Marguerite’s 2d eldest son.

We’ve been blessed by mulitdisciplinary teachers like Margaret Gould Wescott, Sarah Maline; art teachers and artists like John Scarcelli, Donna Seegars, Tom Higgins, Janice Scott, Jack Schneider, Melanie Farmer, Marni Lawson, Ron Parlin, Annette Parlin.

Their love of the arts will be the foundation of this great glassy edifice.

Now we will have a locale to display our community and collegiate talents, a place for us to come together, to teach and show students and strangers alike the joys of performing, of listening, of seeing things in an uncommon light, of stretching the arms of the soul and of growing the imagination, freeing the spirit.

This place will bridge two historic chambers--- We will keep and connect with the old— the black box “Alumni Theater,” where plays have been performed on a shoe string in an old basketball court, the intimate setting for thousands of remarkable performances, rehearsals and lessons in live theater,--- and the Nordica Auditorium, where the voice of the great diva has echoed for the nearly ten decades since her death on a faraway island.

What makes a campus? What makes a community? – The bricks & mortar and the history, the architecture and the humanity, the people and their appreciation of life, work and art.

In this new place— “The Emery” no doubt it will be called— there will be songs sung, spaces created, histories recited, rhythms reborn, love illuminated; dance, duets and drama, poetry applauded, videos and montages; multimedia, movement and music. time will be suspended, perceptions changed, the indoors brought out of doors, and the outside in, minds and souls expanded—dreaming, doing and growing.

A ‘green’ building, fitted with nature, these walls will have new angles, and the lives within them too. And there will be, I am sure, abundant harmony, and… lots of lovely triangles.

Let us break ground together and bestow our many blessings and the good will of those who went before us on the edifice we are about to build here.

Thank you.