The stately Lounsbury House is the beating heart of historic Ridgefield and the focal point of its famed Arts and Cultural District. Part of the registry of National Historic Sites, this unmissable landmark has long served as the community center of the town and is a popular venue for a variety of events ranging from business meetings and Sunday luncheons to art festivals and grand weddings celebrations.
Characterized as the “crown jewel of Main Street” by its Executive Director Suzanne Brennan, the Lounsbury House will soon be host to an exciting new arts and culture collaboration: Music at the Mansion. The Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra (RSO), another local treasure, led by the dynamic Laurie Kenagy, has come together with the Lounsbury House to create what promises to be a spectacular musical experience in the beautiful environs. “It’s a perfect pairing,” says Brennan. “It’s a lovely venue for the RSO and Lounsbury House was looking to expand the use of its grounds.” Music at the Mansion had its beginnings with the simple question of how to get great music out to people where they are. It is part of a pervasive and remarkable spirit of collaboration that drives all of the major arts organizations of Ridgefield to capitalize on the synergy between their different strengths and their common mission to showcase the arts and serve, inspire, and uplift the community.
Enhancing the experience
Planned to be a year-long series, Music at the Mansion will consist of three concerts to be performed in the summer and one in the winter. While the dates for the outdoor summer concerts are still being finalized, the opening concert is slated to be performed indoors on January 28, 2023, from 5:00-7:00 pm. The evening will begin with a social hour where guests can mingle over wine and hors d’oeuvres. The concert will feature the Elyrica Trio which consists of harpist Wendy Kerner, violinist Deborah Wong, and cellist Robert La Rue. The three musicians have played together for many years as part of The Fontenay Chamber Players Septet and are delighted to be performing for the opening concert.
“Music at the Mansion is designed to offer music of the highest artistic quality accessible, both logistically and financially, and to expose the community to the history and beauty of one of Ridgefield’s treasured landmarks,” says Kenagy. It’s a heartwarming vision, motivated in part by the urgency and poignancy of the lessons learned in the last two Covid years. “We want to not just adapt, but to maximize opportunities on how to best use the property for the benefit of the community,” says Brennan.
Plans are underway to refurbish the extensive grounds and to extend the stunning garden area just behind the house to create a community garden and patio. The beauty and history of Lounsbury House are ideal for the small ensemble performances that the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra has planned as part of the music series. There already exists an enchanting garden alcove adjoining Lounsbury House at the back and this will be the venue for the summer concerts. Should the weather gods decide not to cooperate, it will be easy enough to shift indoors, where there is a large open room on the ground floor, guaranteed to enhance any musical experience in the intimate space of the mansion.
Supporting a local treasure
Both Kenagy and Brennan are driven by the mission to serve the community while promoting the arts. Music at the Mansion will present a mix of both classical and contemporary programs to cater to different tastes and cultivate an appreciation of music in a relaxed setting. It will feature a variety of music: string, wind, and piano. Kenagy and Brennan hope to appeal to new patrons of all ages who will be inspired by the impressive surroundings of the Lounsbury House. It costs thousands of dollars to maintain the property on a monthly basis, and while private rentals pay the bulk of the restoration and upkeep costs, Brennan hopes residents of the local and regional community who attend the musical performances will also be motivated to support the mission to preserve this venerable property so that it continues to be an integral part of Ridgefield’s arts and culture scene.
Music at the Mansion brings the living history that Lounsbury House embodies in resonant harmony with the music of the RSO. “People want experiences and Music at the Mansion is bound to be a soul-nurturing one in a beautiful space that has long been the locus of community gatherings for the past sixty years,” says Kenagy.
For more information on Music at the Mansion or to purchase tickets, please visit ridgefieldsymphony.org/music-at-the-mansion.