Manhattan School of Music is a top-notch school training some of the world's leading musicians - and seems a long way off from Hood River.
That elite citadel of classical music, however, represents an unusual connection between two local women who discovered their shared alma mater quite by accident.
Meredith Holcomb, operatic soprano, and Karen Eddleman, concert pianist, both graduated from MSM without ever having met.
Now that they have discovered their shared Gorge residency, however, they are combining their considerable musical forces to offer a benefit concert in support of a local, beloved, community summer program.
Movies in the Park, a regular event series coordinated by the Hood River Community Education Program, requires considerable financial support to keep going every year. Although the program brings thousands together over the summer and offers great community entertainment to families free of charge, budget cuts threaten its future.
That is where the lucky meeting between Holcomb and Eddleman comes in.
At a recent yoga class facilitated by Holcomb, Eddleman noticed something particularly beautiful in Holcomb's voice as she sang along with her "singing bowl." Approaching her instructor after class, Eddleman asked Holcomb where she had been trained.
Surprised to be recognized as a trained singer, Holcomb realized she must be speaking to a trained musician as well. Since that day, Holcomb, who received her master's in opera and voice performance, and Eddleman, who received her master's in piano, both from MSM, realized they were being called to perform together.
Luckily for Hood River, on March 9 the pair will present a fundraising concert with net benefits going to Movies in the Park.
Beyond just offering support to the community education program, anyone who attends the event will be treated to world-class performances by both artists.
"To me, music is celebratory of the human spirit," said Holcomb. "When we work within our creative spheres, we encourage others to have access to their creative selves as well."
Like every good opera singer knows, everything comes down to the breath. Holcomb, who has lived in Hood River for about five years, has also pursued another form of breath awareness and now operates her own yoga studio and trains yoga practitioners around the world.
Eddleman, too, brings a broad worldview to her playing and a deeper philosophical perspective.
Following her master's degree and in a quest to rediscover a more vibrant "soul" within her own music, she journeyed to Argentina to play chamber music. Instead Eddleman found herself drawn to the fiery music of the tango.
Finding the spirit and musical freedom she was looking for after her classical training, Eddleman then immersed herself in the music and became a touring pianist with the orchestra of "Forever, Tango!" a Broadway-style dance musical featuring some of the best tango musicians in the world.
Eddleman acknowledges that fire and freedom still infuse her playing today.
Although their paths have each taken unusual turns, both women have extensive performance histories in renowned venues across Europe and the U.S. Both also hope that local audiences will share their love and passion for the pieces they perform here locally.
The 90-minute program for the evening will include arias from operas by Mozart, Rossini and Gounod and classic arts songs in four different languages.
The community can join the musical celebration and support Movies in the Park by attending the Holcomb-Eddleman "Classical Voice Recital" at Hood River Middle School auditorium at 6:30 p.m. March 9.
A special reception with the artists will be offered to donors of $25 or more per person immediately following the performance.
Performance-only tickets are available at the door or in advance by contacting Ross Holcomb at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-490-3269. Adults: $10; youth (18 and under): $5 and family tickets for $25.