Music lovers love to celebrate. Events like The San Francisco Opera’s 100th anniversary next year; the centenary of the great Maria Callas in 2023; October’s inauguration of the new David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center. But important celebrations aren’t limited to huge organizations in the great cities.

On Labor Day weekend, music lovers on this little island had cause to celebrate our own cherished institution, when the Gossamer Trio played a recital for the Shelter Island Friends of Music (SIFM) that honored the founders of the organization, and remarkably, brought the original performer to play in the same venue as her debut nearly 50 years ago.

The Gossamer is a harp/cello/flute ensemble comprising two of the world’s most admired musicians and a young cellist with a boundless future. Nancy Allen, the eminent principal harpist of the New York Philharmonic, returned to the Island to help commemorate the founding of the Friends of Music.

She and her father, and a few visionary Islanders, established the SIFM to bring great music to the Island. Ms. Allen’s initial performance drew attention to the Friends of Music’s congenial and knowledgeable audience where young instrumentalists would find an opportunity to show their stuff.

The Sept. 3 performance, including works of Bach, Ravel and Bartok, among others, gave each performer a chance to display her remarkable talents: Villa-Lobos’ “The Jet Whistle” allowed Carol Wincenc to show why her 50-year flute career continues to astonish listeners with her thrilling virtuosity. 

The young cellist, Claire Marie Solomon, who happens to be the exquisitely talented daughter of Nancy Allen, showed why her career is ascendant, in a performance of three movements from Bach’s seminal Suite #1 from the “Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello.”

And, in all works she played, Nancy Allen’s gorgeously rich tone underscored why her career has carried her to playing with the world’s great classical ensembles.

Her return to the Friends of Music renewed her distinguished connection to the organization and underscored how a community concert series can bring world-class performances to hugely appreciative audiences.

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