John Denver ‘The Tribute’ concert in Beaver Creek raises money for cancer respite
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What: John Adams Band performs John Denver “The Tribute,” with photography from John Fielder, to benefit Domus Pacis.
Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19.
Cost: $45 general admission or $55 VIP seating
BEAVER CREEK — John Denver sang of a city dweller who “would rather be in Colorado … where the sky looks like a pearl after the rain,” and that’s what Vince and Mary Louise White-Petteruti figure about many of the cancer patients they serve through their nonprofit Domus Pacis.
The Summit County-based organization allows cancer patients and their friends and family to escape for a week to the Rocky Mountains, where through the donated use of second homes, they get a peaceful vacation and a chance to make memories with their loved ones.
The White-Petterutis hope to expand Domus Pacis into Eagle County soon, and the upcoming John Denver “The Tribute” show at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek on Saturday will help spread the word about the organization. The show features The John Adams Band and the nature photography of John Fielder, with a portion of proceeds going to Domus Pacis. Perhaps more importantly, it will raise awareness about the organization and hopefully spur some homeowners to donate their home for a week or two.
A concert of sights and sounds
Adams became a lifelong fan of John Denver’s music after hearing “Take Me Home, Country Roads” as a young man in Holland. He officially took his John Denver tribute on the road in 1998 after playing in Aspen for a celebration of Denver’s life. He and his band will play some of John Denver’s greatest hits, with each song paired with landscape photographer Fielder’s photos displayed on the big screen. The result, said Vince White-Petteruti, is an unforgettable experience.
“It’s the perfect match of sound and sight. Two years ago, John and John did two events down in Denver pairing the music with the photos, and it just worked so well,” he said. “Fielder matches the words of John Denver to his photos — you hear him talk about the mountains, and boom, there’s a wide expanse of mountains, or the song talks about the eagles soaring and boom, there’s the eagles. You can kind of imagine yourself there with the music.”
Fielder has done concerts with various symphonies around the state, as well as two previous Domus Pacis events with The John Adams Band. He’ll speak to the audience between sets of songs, telling them what they’ll see. His Vilar photos will feature scenes that Eagle County audiences may be familiar with.
“I’ll use some images of the Eagle Valley, including scenes of Mount Holy Cross and the local wilderness,” Fielder said. “My favorite pairing is to one of John Denver’s albums called ‘The Flower That Shattered the Stone,’ and there’s a song by that name, too. It’s very evocative and talks about water, rivers, rainbows and children — so I’ve paired some poignant photos of children in nature with it. We need to get kids outdoors more and more if we’re going to preserve nature. We’ve got to have advocates for the next generation.”
Adams said he can see firsthand how audiences react to the music and photos together.
“I remember he first experience I had playing with the photos. I could only see the reflection of the light in the audience, and they were looking over my head, which was a strange feeling,” remembered Adams. “However, afterward, many people — old and young — came up to us with tears, telling us that we brought back so many memories for them.”
Both Adams and Fielder said it was an easy decision to get on board with Domus Pacis’ mission.
“I moved to Summit County eight years ago, and that’s when I learned about Domus Pacis. Much of what I do in my life is raising money for humanitarian nonprofits, so it was easy to say ‘yes’ to Vince when he approached me about this,” Fielder said.
Fielder’s coffee table books will be on sale at the concert, with 30 percent of the proceeds going to Domus Pacis.
White-Petteruti said Domus Pacis, which means Peace House, started 15 years ago when his wife’s mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. At the time, the White-Petterutis had recently bought some land out in Breckenridge, and mom’s wish was to see the land.
“They took a girls’ trip out here, and on the day she died, she was still looking at the photos,” Vince White-Petteruti said. “For a week, she forgot she had cancer.”
The couple wanted to give other families the same opportunity, whether they were survivors or taking their last trip with loved ones. They ask local homeowners, especially those with second homes, to donate their homes for a week at a time. Domus Pacis receives referrals for cancer patients from around the country, who are allowed to bring as many of their friends and family as they wish to the mountains for a week. The nonprofit organizes the housing, provides home-cooked meals and connects the families with activities donated by local businesses. They started in 2008 with eight families. This year, they’ll have served 92 families with a network of 95 homes.
“It makes a huge difference, and the experience varies from family to family. We see them change from beginning to end,” White-Petteruti said. “They become more relaxed, and they create amazing memories, especially the end-of-life ones. They come and have a joyful time and work through issues together. Then when that person passes, the family and friends have wonderful memories of their time in Colorado.”
Assistant Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.