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After 40 years Douglaston Music Group disbands

Classical guitarist William Anderson (l.) and flutist Susan Rotholz perform at the Douglaston Music Group's holiday gathering over the weekend. Photo courtesy Cristine Briguglio
TimesLedger Newspapers

After nearly 40 years of classics, the Douglaston Music Group heard its final tune during its last holiday gathering.

The classical music lovers met at the Douglaston Club one final time Friday for cocktails, music and dinner to send off the group in style.

As the years passed, Douglaston Music Group President Charlotte Herrmann said numbers had dwindled for the three to four events they would host throughout the year.

“When I look at one of our lists from 10 years ago, I see that about 20 people have either passed away or are in senior homes now,” Herrmann said. “Today, many modern women work and are busier than they used to be. We just do not have enough people that would make it worth it.”

For the group’s final event Friday, Herrmann said 47 guests signed up to attend, out of a list of more than 90 invites. In their final event, noteworthy musicians on the faculty of the Aaron Copeland School of Music at Queens College, including flutist Susan Rotholz and classical guitarist William Anderson, performed classical songs from composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach and George Gershwin.

Herrmann said she first joined the Douglaston Music Group after retiring nearly 25 years ago and immediately fell in love with its passion for classical music and adventure.

“These people really love music,” Herrmann said. “They are quite familiar with classical music and it makes any event a joyful one.”

Over the years, the group president said members would meet at somebody’s home in Douglaston for food and friendship before boarding a bus to popular classical and cultural hubs in areas like Manhattan to visit music concerts or lectures. But as members grew older, participation declined, the meetings became less frequent and their wallets shrank.

“It was something that was always very special,” Herrmann said. “Now we don’t have too much money left.”

Cristine Briguglio, who has served as treasurer, said the Douglaston Music Group developed a rich history since its first event in March 1974 because of the passion for music its members shared.

But the group’s biggest challenge as the years piled on, Herrmann said, has been engaging younger Douglaston residents with their love for classical music.

“Needless to say, we don’t get any young people at all because they are just not interested anymore,” Herrmann said. “You are surprised when you see young people in the classical concerts.”

But there still may be some hope for the Douglaston Music Group, Herrmann said, as one potential neighbor has considered taking over and keeping some of its annual events alive.

If not, a similar group of classical music lovers known as the Tuesday Morning Music Club of Douglaston has continued its programming throughout the year, with one of its most recent classical concerts taking place at the Douglaston Community Church Nov. 27.

“It’s always delightful when we meet together,” Herrmann said. “We know we always have wonderful music and a wonderful time because we have people that really know and love the music.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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