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December 06, 2016
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‘Iron Maidens’ come to Honesdale

The Iron Maidens of the Northern Tier Symphony Orchestra include Jennifer Kunkle-Clark, left, Sara Petokas, Linda Lovstad, Catherine Verbyla and Victoria McNamee.

Back home, she played in the New Jersey Symphony for 18 years. In New York, she put in stints in the pit orchestras of such Broadway shows as “Man of La Mancha” and “Cats.” And she’s taught her instrument everywhere, from Indiana University, to giving private lessons, to being a substitute music teacher in Wayne County schools.

Born and reared in Sparta, Lovstad still lives in her grandfather’s house there. She bought her one-bedroom home on four acres in Starlight, a short walk to the West Branch of the Delaware River, intending to spend her days training her beloved Chesapeake Bay retrievers for dog shows, tending her vegetable garden and keeping bees. But when she heard that Robert Helmacy, a childhood friend and fellow veteran pro, had launched an orchestra, she decided to audition. Helmacy, conductor and founding musical director of NTSO, has drawn in top notch musicians with similar bona fides and blended them with players of varying ages and experience into a 68-member orchestra that has been playing to sold-out houses across the region.

Enthusiastic regional audiences like the one that is expected in Honesdale are especially gratifying to play for, Lovstad says, because they crave good music and have few opportunities to hear a symphony orchestra live. Ray Stendenfeld, who lives in Lake Ariel and is the band director at Western Wayne High school, said “We’re so enthused and excited about this concert, we’re actually chartering buses for our students.”

Lovstad says the Honesdale concert “is a terrific program for first-time concertgoers” because the music is familiar—Aaron Copeland, some Strauss waltzes, Smetana’s “The Moldau.”

Even so, she says, the old never really gets old. “I’ll play the horn,” she declares, “until I just can’t pick it up anymore.”

[The Northern Tier Symphony Orchestra is playing on Saturday, April 6 at Honesdale High School at 8 p.m.]