Bryan Osper's death ("Sweet Soul," Dec. 1) leaves a huge hole in the heart of Arcata. An old guy like myself can spend a lot of time bemoaning how things are not what they used to be. For me, meeting Bryan was an antidote to all that.

Bryan was every bit the Jerry Martien, the Marla Joy, the Joan Schirle, the Tim McKay, the Jim McVicker, the (you supply the name) who lifts us as a community. He was a consummate artist. He wasn't just a musician, he was music.

Bryan's talent was undeniable, but more important, his dedication was total. His relentless work came from his obvious joy. He was humble enough to play with anyone and to learn from everyone. Bryan had an openness -- beyond style or genre, beyond competition and false ambition. He had the sensitivity to honor every musician he played with. And, no matter what kind of instrument or music he was playing, he gave each tune its own room to breathe.

For me, for some reason, Bryan was a reaffirmation of hope and beauty in a world that doesn't always nurture those virtues. An affirmation that, yes, the idea of integrity hasn't been lost on a younger generation. I have to be content now that I was one of the lucky ones to have heard that sweet voice and stood enraptured watching music flow through his fingers. His slightly self-effacing smile will linger in Arcata for a long time.

And to Bryan's parents and Eugene and Niko -- thank you.

Alan Sanborn, Arcata

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