Outdoor concert a breath of fresh air

  • Members of the Lakes Region Symphony Orchestra String Ensemble will entertain at the Mill Falls Marketplace in Meredith, on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 4 p.m. Courtesy

The Laconia Daily Sun
Published: 9/24/2020 5:02:52 PM

Margaret Hopkins usually performs about once per week, with classical orchestras, wedding bands and with big band outfits. This year, thanks to the pandemic, she can count on one hand the number of times she has performed.

“This weekend is going to be number five,” she said.

Last weekend, which was a welcome as a breath of fresh air, Hopkins was joined by three other musicians for a performance of chamber music in the courtyard outside of the shops at Mill Falls. The event, presented by the Lakes Region Symphony Orchestra, was received so well that Hopkins and her colleagues will be back this Saturday, Sept. 26, at 4 p.m.

The performance, which is free, will feature some crowd-pleasing songs, such as “La Vie en Rose” and “Gershwin Lullaby,” as well as more typical chamber fare, “Haydn Serenade” and “Bach Brandenburg No. 3.”

Hopkins is the concertmaster for LRSO and a violinist. She will be joined by Bozena O’Brien and Muriel Orcutt, also on the violin, as well as violist Sally Wituszynski and cellist Kari Jukka-Pekka Vainio.

The Lakes Region Symphony Orchestra typically would be announcing its fall and winter schedule about now, but those shows will have to wait until next year. The organization couldn’t stay silent, though, and so last weekend’s performance was arranged, much to Hopkins’s pleasure.

She said playing in a public space and in the open air was a refreshing contrast to performing on stage in an auditorium.

“We get to have a nice interaction with the audience, we can look one person in the eye and talk to them, we can be approached before the performance and after, which is nice. It’s just fun. It’s much more informal,” Hopkins said.

There were challenges as well, such as when the afternoon temperatures turned chilly, and when the breeze swept the sheet music off of the stand. She’s hoping for slightly more accommodating conditions this time around.

But the people passing by couldn’t have been more accommodating to a surprise string ensemble, Hopkins said.

“I think we did pretty well last week, the audience seemed to like it,” she said.

Those who stopped to take in the music included adult couples leaving restaurants, families with children, unattached young adults and people in their older years. In other words, a more diverse audience than usually appears at the symphony performances in the Inter-Lakes Community Auditorium.

“And quite a few of them just lingered for a while, so that was nice. I like reaching an audience that would not normally hear a live classical performance,” Hopkins said.

Martha Hulsman, assistant manager at Innisfree Books, would have had a front-row seat for the concert on Saturday if not for her work duties.

“People were so happy to hear the music,” Hulsman said. “It was certainly a pleasant interlude for the afternoon. Saturday is a busy day, I think people enjoyed coming and pausing, and hearing something beautiful.”

She said it didn’t really make a difference in the store’s sales for the day, but she appreciated seeing the performance nonetheless.

“I don’t know that it did an awful lot for our bottom line, but it helped people’s attitudes and helped people embrace the day, which in this environment is so important,” Hulsman said. “I think we’re looking forward to the next concert, and we’re grateful to be open.”

Hopkins, for her part, is similarly grateful to have the chance to play.

“Hopefully it won’t be as cold as it was last week. I think it’s going to be about seven degrees better, so we should survive just fine,” Hopkins said. “And I’m really thankful that Lakes Region Symphony Orchestra is such a huge supporter of us. I am really hopeful that, once we are able to have concerts once again, more people will come to see what this orchestra can do. They get better and better each year.”

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.

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