The Salt Lake Symphony celebrated the season of giving on Saturday with a heartwarming concert dedicated to the proposition that one person can make a difference.
The concert's centerpiece was the newly orchestrated version of Phillip Bimstein's song cycle "A Secret Gift," based on Ted Gup's book of the same name that tells the true story of an Ohio man Gup's maternal grandfather, Sam Stone who gave anonymous gifts to people in need in 1933. Bimstein noted that this performance fell on the 78th anniversary of the day when Stone hatched the idea of placing a newspaper ad offering to send $5 checks to those who wrote letters to a "B. Virdot" explaining why they needed the money. He sent out 150 of those checks.
Stone's identity remained a secret until three years ago, when his daughter Virginia Gup Sharpe gave a suitcase full of the letters to Gup, who in turn tracked down the recipients' descendants and told their stories. Sharpe's presence in Libby Gardner Concert Hall on Saturday seemed like a lovely gift in itself.