The reasons I put my life on hold in Los Angeles and moved to Winfield Kansas are many, but the one of which I write about now, is perhaps the most interesting, at least to myself.
What would the world be like if society dedicated itself not to the purely personal accumulation of wealth, but rather the personal accumulation of wealth through individual efforts, which make society better? What if the bottom line wasn’t a number on a ledger, but an unequaled experience of excellence, having been provided? What if one lived a dignified and comfortable life, while at the same time creating a better world for others? In a sense a philosophical protest against a culture that looks to something other than individual effort, accepts mediocrity, a culture with a sense of entitlement, entitlement to what, they do not know…
I took over Iron Gate because it was built by a man who understood that his own fortune was only as valuable as the community in which he lived. I perceived the value of Iron Gate, not as some wood hammered together sitting on a tract of land, but as a place that represented a man and a time in which great individuals did great things for their communities. However, all individuals were expected to strive for their own personal greatness at their respective pursuits. There was no desire for a nanny state and there were no coattails to ride. Often, men born to advantage struck out on their own, to make their own way in the world.
From the moment I first set foot into Iron Gate, I hoped that it would be a place where people could come and stay and rediscover that feeling of what made America the greatest country the world has ever known. I wanted Iron Gate to be a place where people could come and recharge themselves with the positive energy that it takes to do great things. And I even imagined it being a place, where people could come and stay and do more than recharge—they could stay and create. And to this end, no expense would ever be spared. Iron Gate would be a place where the most is done for the least, an oasis, in a culture that now often desires to give the least for the most.
Now imagine a little country radio station, KSOK, that gets the notion that it should bring one of the world’s best tenors to small town America for a night at the opera. That tenor, would be Dominique Moralez. And as successful as Dominique had been, he started performing with the Portland Opera when he was ten-years-old, his career ascended to a whole new level, when he fell in love with, and married Hele. Hele, is not just strikingly beautiful, on the inside and out, at just twenty-four-years-old she has one of the best voices on the planet. Both Dominique and Hele are completely dedicated to greatness, with respect to their profession, both seemingly born to what they do. They have physical beauty, enormous talent and work ethic, they live in beautiful homes in Denmark and Paris, however, in the powerful love that they found in each other, they discovered that there was still more…
Together, they wanted to share the beauty of the music that they perform, not just with the patrons of the arts as we’ve come to think of them. They wanted to explain the music that they were performing—as most do not understand the languages that they are performed in. And most of all, they wanted to connect with their audiences in a way that was direct. So together, they created and now perform a show that makes the world of opera accessible to all. Their performance at the Brown Center, was like no other opera experience that I’ve ever had. They performed the songs that one would certainly expect, including one of my favorites Con Te Partiro, but they also gave the audience the treat of the Phantom Opera—usually not performed by European Opera Stars. And throughout the performance, which I would call the theme of which, love, the two shared their own personal experience of falling in love. By the end of this most incredible night, many in the audience were simply moved to tears.
The vision of KSOK and the talent of Dominique and Hele were brought together and A Night At The Opera was made possible by the generosity of Mike Harvey and his company Family Wealth Management. Imagine what Cowley County would be like if every business in the county sponsored events and programs in the same way as Family Wealth Management. Imagine if this caught on in counties across the country, what a country this would be. Remember back to when President Kennedy asked, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” When men like Mike Harvey, step up and make events like A Night At The Opera happen, they make all of our world a better place to live in.
So as the reception for Dominique, Hele and Elvia, being held at Iron Gate, went along in a manner that would have made the Queen of Denmark proud, I couldn’t help but to thank God for the blessing of being able to be part of such an event. At one point I said to one of the guests, “See, this is what Iron Gate was meant for, it’s the dream.” And in the written word it is impossible to convey the warmth of community, which I am actually referring to when art, business and friends come together over some good food and drink at a place like Iron Gate, but there will be more nights like this one and I hope that each and every person in Winfield, Cowley County and ultimately all of America will feel this warmth in the very near future. You see, the best of times are just ahead, they’re right in front of us, we, and by we I mean each and every one of us, just has to do a little bit to make it happen. And remember, most of the little bit of effort, to which I refer, involves just showing up and enjoying yourself.