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Plucked From The Heart Of Newtown

Published: October 19, 2017

In plucking the strings of violins, violas, and cellos, members of the Brentano and Daedalus string quartets were also plucking the heartstrings of the audience that filled the Edmond Town Hall Theatre, Sunday afternoon, October 15, for the final program presented by the Newtown Friends of Music (NFM). After 40 years of bringing world class musical performers to the little stage in Main Street’s former town hall, NFOM has passed the baton on to other 501(c)3 music organizations in the area.

The decision to dissolve NFM was one made by the board, not quite two years after the death of longtime supporter, president, and in arguably the driving force behind the group, Ellen Parrella.

What NFM brought to Newtown was a chance to experience the talents of top musical performers from around the world. Through its partnership with the schools, this organization introduced and inspired numerous young musicians, rewarding some of the most promising with scholarships, and overall broadening young people’s appreciation of music and composition. Performances were always free to young people accompanied by an adult, and over the four decades, hundreds of families took advantage of that offer.

With the dissolution of this local organization, Newtown loses a bit of history and a rare level of artistic culture. The group has done its best though, to ensure that its patrons continue to find sources for the appreciation of classical music.

Paying it forward, funds still in the treasury of NFM were dispersed to Wilton Candlelight Concerts, the Danbury Concert Association, the Pawling Concert Series, the Sherman Chamber Ensemble, and the Danbury Music Centre, so that these groups dedicated to fine music can pursue their goals, and allow music lovers in this region to continue to find solace in the notes that soar from the instruments of world renowned performers.

It is sad to bid farewell to an organization that has served the public well. Filling the niche will be a challenge, but it must be remembered that NFM was preceded by the Newtown Orchestra Society in the 1930s. Who knows if this is but an opportunity for yet another promising group to take root?

There is wisdom in the board’s acknowledging that taking the final bow at the top of its form is preferable to hanging on with a sense of uncertainty, and current board members Bill Timmel, Paul Gehrett, Lea Attanasio, Michel Dolivo, Dorothea Labelle, and especially Ms Parrella’s daughter, Kaia Fahrenholz, can be praised for the courage to do so.

Newtown music lovers and those who traveled many miles to Edmond Town Hall to enjoy the exquisite examples of musicianship for four decades can be uplifted by the memories of exhilarating performances — even as their heartstrings tremble.

The curtain is pulled on NFOM, but the high note on which it has ended will linger for years to come.

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