Bouquet goes to Holly Dunlap and Eric Karabetsos.
By Susanne Park
Usually we as musicians express and share our joy inside Heinz Hall, onstage. But since September 30, we have been in the unique position of not only taking a stand to protect this beloved, world-class orchestra, we’ve also been on the receiving end of much kindness and joy. The people of Pittsburgh have surprised and humbled us with the outpouring of support we receive daily through social media, letters to the newspapers, and in person on the picket line.
Two people that have walked with us every day these past weeks are Holly and Eric. They are members of the legion of Pittsburgh Symphony supporters that, as everyday working-class music-lovers, often go unsung. Holly has lived here for 3 years, coming from NY, and Eric is a born and bred Pittsburgher. Both are passionate about reading and the Pittsburgh Pirates, as well as lovers of music. Holly studied french horn in high school, and attended the Crane School of Music (SUNY). When asked why she’s joined us on the picket line, she said, “I’ve seen first-hand the kind of dedication and hard work it takes to be a musician, not to mention the investment of time and money that goes into purchasing, maintaining, and practicing a musical instrument. The end product is something magical. That’s why I’m here.”
Eric remembers his first encounter with live music. “I was 6 or 7 years old, and it was at Heinz Hall. I can’t remember what the orchestra played, but I still remember how I felt. I’ve loved classical music ever since,” he says with a smile.
Eric works at Starbucks, and Holly is currently looking for office work. In the meantime, she spends hours on the picket line every day with us. As someone with cerebral palsy, she is worried about picketing once the weather turns and the pavement becomes slippery. But as a passionate music lover, she is determined to stand with our orchestra musicians. “I’m from Lake Placid, NY. I can take the cold. If I have to sit in a chair in the snow with you guys, that’s what I’m going to do.”
We couldn’t be more grateful for her and Eric’s support. The words of Irish poet W.B. Yeats come to mind every time they show up and walk with us:
“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” — William Butler Yeats