story & photos
by Jessica Warzeniak
“Five years ago the music at Harkness was silenced,” said John Waller, president, SoundMusic, in a press conference on May 13 at the Harkness Mansion, Waterford. “I stand here to say, the magic is back!”
John, co-founder and former general director of CT Lyric Opera, describes the formation of SoundMusic, “I planned to step away from music. Then, I met Martin Piecuch. I thought, now here is the man who can bring the magic back!” John describes Martin as a “ball of energy” which is exactly the push needed to bring the music back to Harkness Memorial State Park.
Martin Piecuch, music director and conductor, SoundMusic, announces, “The saying goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ Well, it takes a very large community to support an orchestra.” Our community is just the one to do it.
The New Haven Symphony, in residence as the SoundMusic Orchestra, will perform three concerts this summer at Harkness. With great enthusiasm, Martin explained the themes for each. July 18’s concert is “Made in America” featuring music by Aaron Coplan, John Corifliano, Antonin Dvorak, and “The Stars & Stripes Forever” by John Phillip Sousa. “This is the most thrilling of sounds,” said Martin.
The second concert, scheduled for July 25, is in honor of 100th anniversary of Benny Goodman’s birth, called “Swinging Under the Stars.” “I want to remove all the labels of music and just have it be music,” said Martin. “There’s no good music or bad. It can’t be about classical or pops. Are we saying anything that’s not pops is unpopular? That’s frightening.”
The last concert, “Mostly Mozart” scheduled for August 1, features “Mozartiana Suite #4, opus 61” by Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky, written in honor of Mozart, and “Concerto for Bassoon” and “Symphony #41 (Jupiter)” by Mozart. “My job is to make all this music accessible to you, to connect to you,” said Martin. “This is not a spectator sport, it’s a participation sport.”
During the press conference, Frank Bombastic Jr., a senior at Lyme-Old Lyme High School, announced his senior project, “Bombfest.” Frank said, “My dream is to develop and produce a fun-filled festival celebrating art and music brought together on stage produced through high school talent, to bring our music back celebrated at the outdoor amphitheater at Harkness Memorial State Park.” Frank’s goal is to raise funds for SoundMusic and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. The concert, featuring nationally known and local musicians, is scheduled for June 13.
To bring the music back to Harkness, SoundMusic needed permission from Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to use the park. “The first year I was here was the year the concerts stopped. Now I’m on my way out this year, and they are starting up again,” said Gina McCarthy, Commissioner, DEP. “I am looking forward to an evening under the stars, sitting on the lawn, and being enchanted once again.”