Willowbank opens doors for salon concert fundraiser

Queenston’s Willowbank School of Restoration Arts hosted a classical music salon concert Sunday afternoon, a unique fundraiser rooted in the estate’s long history.

It was the first “Reimagining Willowbank” event organized by the Willowbank Friends and Fundraising committee, led by board member Ginny Green.

The concert featured classical music from the eras, 100 years apart, during which the estate was inhabited by thriving families.

The concept behind the afternoon was to reimagine how the families of the Hamiltons and the Brights in the 1840s and 1930s may have enjoyed music and social gatherings at Willowbank.

Pianist James Bourne, music director of St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Niagara-on-the-Lake, led the concert. He was accompanied by Brock University music students Kaitlyn Chambers on clarinet and Carlo Panetta on alto sax.

Patrons were treated to performances from celebrated composers including Mozart, Wagner and Debussy with a finale of “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin.

Second-year Willowbank student and volunteer, Ela Gach, said, “It was a lovely afternoon of music and it was really nice to see everyone come out in support of Willowbank.”

“The estate has a rich, wonderful history and it’s always so nice to share that with the community.”

As well, Bright family descendant Emily Bright offered some amusing stories of the mischief that the children got up to while growing up at Willowbank.

Green noted that despite the first heavy snow of the season, the concert “really came together well, all the moving parts. It truly was a great team effort and the weather co-operated.”

With COVID restrictions easing, the Willowbank plans to host more of these types of events, marketing director Katie Houghton said.

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