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From 1717 To Now: N.H. Boaters Take In ‘Water Music’ In Livermore Cove

Kayakers on Squam
Samantha Coetzee
Boaters enjoying the concert on Squam Lake.

Who knew loons liked classical music? Ducks and other waterfowl were among the audience of the New Hampshire Music Festival’s concert on Squam Lake on Friday.

Over 220 boats and kayaks anchored in Livermore Cove to hear an orchestra perform from a pontoon boat in an event that was the first of its kind for the New Hampshire Music Festival.

The ensemble of 13 musicians performed Handel’s Water Music. By having the musicians on the water, festival officials nodded to the first time the suite was performed from barges on the River Thames in 1717.

Because it was the first time this event was held, the musicians weren’t sure how many people would come, or how the listeners would enjoy the performance.

squam lake band
Samantha Coetzee
The orchestra after their performance.

Valerie Watts, principal flutist in the orchestra, said she enjoyed this new experience.

“It was amazing how many people collected [around us]. It was quiet, everyone was just listening intently. It was beautiful,” Watts said. “I was just kind of concerned, ‘would our sound carry,’ but people were honking their [boat] horns at the end of the pieces in approval.”

Lucinda Williams, executive director of the festival, said the event had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“We were going to make this a new thing that we did every summer that could be uniquely New Hampshire,” she said. “You know, come to New Hampshire and hear a concert on the lake by an orchestra.”

Williams said the event was a good opportunity for people who may not be comfortable in large crowds yet.

The event was hosted in part by the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. Paul Polivnick, music director of the New Hampshire Music Festival, said working with them was natural for an event like this.

“The music that we do, it's got a long history, much like the lake's been around for a long time,” said Polivnick. “And the folks who are responsible for preserving this lake, maintaining this beauty for generations to come is a very similar kind of activity to what we do with our music."

“It goes back for hundreds of years, and it has tremendous, tremendous beauty to it,” he said.

“We want to maintain that, preserve and pass it on to the next generation.”

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Samantha Coetzee joined the NHPR team in 2020 as a weekend Board Operator and is now NHPR’s News Intern. A senior journalism major at the University of New Hampshire and New Hampshire native, Samantha is also the General Manager of WUNH, UNH’s student-run radio station.

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