Eli Ruiz | Democrat
Three members of The Lyric Quartet are, from left, lyric tenor Mariano Vidal, baritone Tom Caltabellotta and soprano Leslie Swanson. They performed at the Parksville USA Music Festival’s inaugural concert.
'She would have loved it.'
By Eli Ruiz
PARKSVILLE April 19, 2013 The first ever Parksville USA Music Festival went-off “flawlessly,” according Parksville Priorities chairwoman and Parksville USA publicity director, Amy Amaral.
The parking lot was full and Star Road lined with cars as an audience just short of 100 packed the pews in the century-old “jewel-box” that is the Parksville United Methodist Church.
The festival spearheaded by Parksville’s own Tom Caltabellota is dedicated to the memory of his wife and Parksville champion Michelle Koury Caltabellota. The couple owned and operated the popular Dead End Café in Parksville for nearly 20 years where besides the top-notch cuisine, one could also count on entertainment of equal quality: generally Michelle accompanying Tom on piano as he would belt out classical opera, traditional folk and more in his rich bass/baritone.
Sunday’s concert was one of eight planned for the season and could be a boon to the Liberty hamlet, which has been reeling since the I-86/Route 17 Department of Transportation project that bypassed it, leaving it nearly invisible to the thousands of commuters who travel by Exit 98 each day.
The Parksville USA Music Festival has organized a season of concerts to be held on the first Sunday of every month through October all to start at 3 p.m.
A Gala Holiday Concert is planned for December.
“Years ago when my wife was alive this was the place [the church] we came to vote. I would always tell Michelle that it was the perfect room for chamber music,” explained Caltabellota. “The idea just stuck with me and then she went away and six months ago I made this my project, my mission. I got the singers together and Amy [Amaral] got tons of publicity out.”
Sunday’s playbill featured The Lyric Quartet. Organized in 1980, it toured extensively throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Almost immediately after the group was formed they were awarded private and public funding to bring live classical vocal music to new audiences in varied areas including colleges, arts centers, schools and museums. The group consists of soprano Leslie Swanson of New York City, lyric tenor Mario Vidal of Youngsville and New Jersey, pianist Cory Batty from the Pacific Northwest and Caltabellota.
Guest artist Evgeniya Krachmarova of Bulgaria also lent her beautiful voice and charming ways to the event.
“This is unbelievable. How could you not support this town after all its been through with the bypass on [Route] 17 and everything else,” said Town of Liberty supervisor Charlie Barbuti. “They’re taking their cuts, they’re gonna keep swinging that bat until they hit one out of the park and something like this can only help matters.”
Regarding the turnout, Amaral offered, “For the first event it was flawless. We’re hoping this is sort of a jumpstart [for Parksville]. It’s a no-brainer to me that if we have strong events people will come, and those out of the area will see that we need a little help.
“I knew her [Michelle’s] hopes and dreams were with Parksville,” added Amaral. “She always talked about a renaissance of prosperity. There’s been no better advocate for Parksville.”
Asked how his wife would have felt about the event, an immediately teary-eyed Caltabellota said simply, “She’d love it… no question.”
Organizers ask that anyone interested in attending future shows call Caltabellotta at 747-4247 as seating is limited.