Monroe County’s community reading program celebrated its 10th anniversary with a big band bang.
MCCC hosted the 2016 kickoff event for the One Book, One Community of Monroe County on March 12, featuring a performance by Monroe Big Band.
“All The Light We Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr, was the featured book for this year’s program.
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The story, set during World War II Europe, follows Marie Laure, blind since the age of 6, who must relocate with her father on the Brittany Coast when the Germans invade Paris, and Werner, a German boy with a talent for building and fixing radios that takes him into the brutal military of the Nazis.
With 125 people in attendance, the room was thriving with positive energy and music.
The event started with a musical tribute to the Swing era, performed live by The Monroe Big Band, with vocals by Lisa Young, in the La-Z-Boy Center.
Swing music, the danceable swing style of big bands and band leaders, was the dominant form of American popular music from 1935 to 1946 – the period in which “All the Light We Cannot See” was based.
Cheryl Johnston, chairwoman of the One Book, One Community Committee, reflected on the way the group has grown since it started 10 years ago.
“The first few years were hard for people to get the idea of a community reading, how it would bring us together. It would only be something to talk about in a passing conversation, but now, we finish one book and people ask us, ‘What are we going to read next year?’” Johnston said.
“I think it has impacted the community to show that reading is important for all ages. It brings families together, it brings our community together.”
Music trickled in through the atrium, intertwining conversation with melody, taking the audience back to a time much different than what we live in.
Samantha Bartley, another member of the One Book, One Community group, noted that music was important to the characters in the novel.
“Music was something all the characters had their own stories with. That’s the one thing that they had their own emotion, their own stories through that. It connected them, in a way,” Bartley said.
Werner, one of the main characters, was inspired by the musical piece, Claire de Lune, by Claude Debussy. The music is woven into the two narratives in the book,
“Debussy is a great branch composer for Werner, but Claire de Lune means ‘Light of the Moon’ so it goes into the author’s light thing,” Johnston said.
“It is, of course, a beautiful piece of music and you see in these war torn areas, everybody is seeking some kind of rest, some kind of peace, and music is one of those things,” Johnston said. “We can all communicate, we can all appreciate a great piece of music, and it’s an important theme in the book.”
One Book, One community hosted a variety of events surrounding the novel in March and April. For more information, go to monroeccc.edu/onebook.