This past Saturday Arcosanti celebrated our annual Colly Concert, an evening in honor of Corolyn Woods Soleri that we have hosted for the past 35 years.

Our tradition aims to remember and praise the influence this remarkable woman had on the Arcosanti project and on all associated with the work here.

[photos by Sue Kirsch, text by Sean-Paul VonAncken, Jeff Stein]

Colly Soleri was Paolo Soleri’s wife and closest friend. Many say there would be no Paolo Soleri without her; and we understand that to be true.

She was the unsung hero, the behind-the-scenes coordinator, the one who knew all of the details, and the one who knew your name.

In so many ways she enabled Paolo to reach the heights that he did, sharing in love, logic, and legacy.

[photo of Howard Sadler, Calming Wind, Anasazi flute, and Jocelyn Obermeyer, Harp]

On Saturday we remembered Colly by experiencing a theme that she embodied throughout her life – “Koinonia” – the Greek term for “participation,” participation in the whole.

We focused on what it means to participate, to engage, to be in the midst of life, energy, and music.

[photo of Jeff Stein]

Left behind was the notion that an audience should arrive to simply observe a performance – art, like life, cannot occur in the vacuum and isolation of the stage alone. Instead this Colly Concert extended the boundary of what a concert even is, to some limit that is defined by the participation of everything and everyone involved.

This year we began with a tour of the Arcosanti site where theory, practice, and history were explored in dialogue with participants.

[photo of Daga Suchon, violin, Lynn Haeseler, piano and Ruth Wenger, cello]

Questions were asked, notions grappled with, and the audience gained a deeper sense of physical, spiritual, and artistic context they were embedded within.

The tour arrived at the amphitheater to the music of Jocelyn Obermeyer’s harp – had the show already begun? To understand the nature of this performance, you would know that the show had, of course, started long ago….

As the participants settled into the amphitheatre, we began in earnest as a series of the classical chamber pieces that Colly loved – Faure, Ravel, Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven – were woven together with poetry, narration and more.

At one point everyone in the amphitheatre sang the entirety of “take me out to the ballgame”. The evening continued with a delicious dinner in the Arcosanti Cafe. Conversations, connections and conviviality.

Many stayed later into the night, sharing insights and another impromptu performance. It was an amazing night, revolving around the memory of Colly, her love for artistic expression, her willingness to participate, and the model she provides even now for us to do that, too – Koinonia. 

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