The Universal Language

By SHEA STANFIELD

ARTS COLUMNIST

“Music is the universal language of mankind,” wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

 

It’s a sentiment understood by anyone who embraces music. Local musicians, Cindy and Robert Leger, can attest to having music in their souls from the beginning.

Pictured: Local musical duo, Ocotillo. Photos courtesy of Ocotillo
Pictured: Local musical duo, Ocotillo.
Photos courtesy of Ocotillo

Cindy was born and raised in Springfield, Mo. The first time she picked up a cello in elementary school she was captivated by the cello’s “almost human sound and its ability to express both joyful and sorrowful ranges of emotions.”

 

Five decades later she is still mesmerized by it and exploring its emotional range.

 

Cindy attended Drury University in Springfield, where she received bachelor’s degrees in music and music education. She played with the Springfield Symphony and studied with influential professors, Walter Hawkey, and Sam Minasian.

 

Cindy also served as a music librarian for the college orchestra and the Springfield Symphony, and played in different string quartets, chamber orchestras and full orchestras.

 

When she met and married Robert Leger her life path would add raising two sons. They eventually relocated to Phoenix with Robert’s job as a newspaper editor with the Arizona Republic.

 

Today, Cindy draws her inspiration from playing with Robert in their musical duo Ocotillo.

 

“Where words fail, music speaks,” Hans Christian Anderson wrote.

 

And so goes the story for Cindy’s musical partner Robert Leger. Born and raised in Las Cruces, N.M., Robert credits his parents for planting the seeds that would blossom in journalism and music.

 

He became a voracious reader, fascinated with the power of words, and this passion would lead to his career in journalism.

 

His parents were involved in the Las Cruces Community Theater, so he and his siblings could be found many weekends at rehearsals or building sets for the latest production. Robert grew his performance legs and directed two plays before leaving for college.

 

Robert arrived at college in his teens with his driver’s license, his first guitar and role models in the Beatles, John Denver and Led Zeppelin. He didn’t take his first classical guitar lessons until his 20s, and from there he taught himself the mandolin.

 

He attended the University of Missouri, receiving a bachelor’s degree in journalism that lead to a 37-year career; the last 10 with the Arizona Republic.

 

In 2015, Robert took a buyout from the newspaper and entered the consulting phase of his life, offering ghost writing, editing and message strategizing, mostly on public policy issues.

 

Robert and Cindy, known professionally, as Ocotillo, have converted a spare bedroom in their home into a sound and production studio where they compose original music, and develop new twists on standard favorites.

 

With music in their souls and generosity in their hearts, both thrive on “celebrating and improving their community” through their professional and personal work.

 

As Ocotillo they play weddings, special events or corporate parties all over Arizona. They especially enjoy intimate home concerts and are looking to expand that part of their performance schedule.

 

Ocotillo has released an album entitled “Enchantment.” They say the album “sparked the writing of original music and greater sophistication in our arrangements.”

 

They are involved in the music ministry at their church and Cindy plays with MusicaNova Orchestra at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM.org).

 

To discover more about Ocotillo, or to reach Robert and Cindy for information about booking a performance, visit their website at ocotillomusic.com. Or you can find them on Facebook or Instagram.

 

You can contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield on her email at flowingquill@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

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