By George Capsis
“Nobody will come. Nobody.” I could visualize this scattering of puzzled attendees in the vast pews of St. Veronica’s which can seat as many as 750. “It will be a disaster,” I thought, “A disaster.”
When I arrived, the first notes of that disaster sounded. Our ad for the concert listed ‘7:00 p.m.’ and the invitation card offered ‘7:30 p.m.!’ The 7:00 p.m. attendees sat in glum, accusing silence.
But then, as we got closer to 7:30 p.m., the 122-year-old church filled and filled. Latecomers climbed into the balcony and it too filled—a full house, a full house!
I slowly and carefully moved my pain-gripped back through the musician stands (not a good idea to fall over now) and stood before an antique carpet of gray heads.
That full house proved, as I hoped it would, that we who live in the West Village want a concert hall that we can walk to, a concert hall that will be free to seniors trapped in rent-stabilized apartments and living on Social Security.
But we had kids at the concert as well, and Dusty photographed two in the front row that conducted with Michael Feldman. Everybody was there, including Father Rubio who had given us an “enthusiastic endorsement” for this first concert. We wanted to demonstrate to Cardinal Dolan and the gatekeepers at the Archdiocese that this building, which had received the love and hard-won collection basket coins of three generations starting with the Irish dockworkers and their families, could have a new life—not one that serves the comfort of a collective faith through ritual but one that joins all with music.
I have one very strong conviction—that these concerts must always be free to seniors. Always. If we must charge admission to younger people, it should be as low as possible and free to little kids.
We did this together—no government grant, no millionaire patron—and we can continue to make it work. It requires only one person to do it—you!
You can email me at GCapsis@gmail.com or send me a letter at the address below to express how you plan to make Music at St. Veronica’s our concert hall for the next century.
69 Charles Street
New York, NY 10014