To the editor:
As we approach one year since our first Classical Movements concert in June 2020, we have welcomed 2,361 audience members to 66 hour-long concerts, the first and largest operating in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic. We have been grateful to our audience members and supporters for speaking out on our behalf, including more than 180 letters of support when we were asked to get a Special Use Permit by the city because of a single complaint.
We have tried to maintain the high road and not to engage our neighbor who has constantly complained to the city, called the police and misrepresented the situation. But we now feel it is necessary to specifically address some of the claims Guy Lamolinara has repeatedly made to the city and in his March 25 and May 27 letters to the Alexandria Times.
We went door-to-door, delivered 261 letters and personally invited the Lamolinaras and their guests to our concert on July 25, 2020. On Nov. 21, he and his wife told us how much they enjoyed the music and invited friends to listen to our concerts.
The other neighbor he refers to in his letters informed us that they were away all summer 2020 but that they enjoyed the music in the few concerts they were home for last fall and winter. They signed our letter of support when we met and apparently have not been home for a single concert in 2021.
Sunrise Senior Living supports our concerts, and has asked us for artists and for special discounted tickets for their clients. They have soundproofed windows. Their sales people and residents have told us that the rooms overlooking our garden are at a premium.
We have satisfied the city’s parking requirements and have photographic evidence of numerous empty spaces on the streets during our concerts. We have a SUP that includes us taking sound measurements, working with experts and the city to monitor decibel readings during our performances. There is a process in place. We wish Guy Lamolinara would leave us in peace and stop the constant harassment.
As anyone who has attended our concerts will recognize, the ambient noise of birds, traffic and airplanes often competes with the quiet music in our garden – to say nothing of Lamolinara’s own noise from the guests he invited to listen to our concerts, even before he began deliberately disrupting our events. We have more than 60 signatures confirming his hourlong disruptions: He purposely bangs large chimes against his tree and scrapes chairs and trash cans across his back patio. By his own admission, his objections to our concerts began only after someone asked him to be a little quieter during a performance on Oct. 4.
I am even more concerned about the disturbing pattern of his disruptions during the few private weddings. During intimate ceremonies his behavior is especially unconscionable: He has had no shame in screaming over couples exchanging vows or calling the police. Imagine finally finding a way to celebrate your marriage in a safe and beautiful setting in the midst of a pandemic – only for the most personal moment of the ceremony to be disrupted in such a manner!
When COVID-19 halted our core business of concert touring – a disruption that will last for us at least until 2022 – I chose not to shut down our 29-year-old, Alexandria-based company and to maintain our small, devoted and highly experienced staff. These concerts and weddings are one of the few activities that have kept my company going in even a small way. From his first complaint, Lamolinara has resisted every attempt we have made to resolve this amicably.
Every day, people tell us how much this series means to them. By August 2021, we expect to have reached more than 3,500 audience members and artists. One man shouldn’t be able to ruin that for everyone. We believe that Alexandria should continue to be a cultural hub, where world-class artists appear and beautiful concerts take place.
-Neeta Helms, president, Classical Movements