Dear friends,

Though some of you might not suspect this, I’m a nervous hostess. I love having people in my home, but it’s never without stress: Will I overcook the salmon? Are there too many guests for a single conversation? Will my friends get along? Does anyone hate cilantro?

It’s the same with concerts – beginning with the program. I wonder if you will love the pieces as much as I do, or if the music is too obscure, or too well known. Or if the concert will go beyond two hours if we take questions after intermission. As I am warming up backstage I worry about the crush of people at the door, if the audience will have trouble parking, my welcoming remarks, and if we’ll run out of chocolate hearts.

And I worry about attendance. As long as I can remember in my adult life, I have been peddling concerts. When I was 22, just out of college and a newcomer to Boston, I started to copy the names and addresses of new acquaintances into a large spiral notebook in anticipation of the solo concerts I planned to give. Pre-dating the computer era, I would create fliers with stencils and a photocopy of a print that I found in a heavy art book, lugged to the closest Xerox machine, then painstakingly fold and hand-write hundreds of addresses on them. Years later, after a grueling initiation into the computer world, I started gathering them in a database.

It’s a bit humbling to realize that I am still doing it more than 3 decades later, unveiling my Klimt posters to store owners, trying to promote the idea of unstuffy classical music for the community. It doesn’t matter that our last concert was packed: In the weeks leading up to a performance, I have a nagging feeling that we might have done more to spread the word, that there’s one more person we could have converted. I know that our artists and programs are the best of the best, so I cannot help wanting every Trader Joe’s cashier to know this, too.

It’s an odd sort of passion, really, and even if I didn’t have a series that relied quite literally on seats being filled and tickets being sold, I think I would still be driven to bring people together to hear great music and foster a sense of community.  I know how I want you to experience the concert, from the Klimt painting that arrives in your inbox down to the last word you read in our program booklet.

Just as I do at my dinner parties. Thanks for coming into my living room today.  Happy Valentine’s Day.