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Nearing 90, founder of chamber music nonprofit Classicopia retiring

  • Classicopia co-founder Marcia Colligan has hosted the organization's musical salons in her Hanover, N.H., living room over the years. Photographed on May 4, 2021, Colligan, 89, has announced her retirement as Classicopia President and CFO. ( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/8/2021 10:05:13 PM
Modified: 5/8/2021 10:05:10 PM

HANOVER — After two decades running Classicopia, Marcia Colligan will retire next month as the president and CFO of the professional chamber music organization she co-founded in Hanover in 2001.

Colligan, who turns 90 next month, started the group to provide opportunities for musicians to perform and to expose audience members to chamber music.

Over the years, Classicopia has hosted 82 musicians in 95 venues for 915 concerts. (Colligan is a meticulous keeper of lists and tallier of numbers. After she announced her retirement, Colligan’s son Patrick moved over 90 pounds of Classicopia-related filings from her basement.)

“Artists could talk to the audiences and develop their craft in a small, intimate place. It’s a great dimension to what we do that I think is very different from most musical organizations,” said Daniel Weiser, who was Colligan’s co-founding partner in Classicopia.

Weiser, a freelance pianist, became Colligan’s teacher when she decided to revisit a childhood passion and take back up the piano. During their lessons, Colligan would listen to Weiser play, sharing it with her family.

“My mother was moved to the point of tears by his music, saying to me, ‘Everyone needs to hear this,’ ” Colligan’s son John said of those early days she spent with Weiser.

“That’s why I brought people into my home and started that salon,” Colligan said. Classicopia began with Colligan inviting a few friends to her house for food, drink and music. Then, as with every Classicopia concert that would follow, the musician began their performance with a few words about the composer.

“Edu-tainment, that’s what we call it,” Colligan said.

Colligan, now a grandmother to 15 and great-grandmother to 18, raised six children in Hanover.

While working as assistant business manager at Dartmouth, Colligan completed her MBA at the University of New Hampshire in 1985. It was her business savvy that transformed Classicopia from a hobby into something more expansive. She secured a nonprofit 501(c)(3) status and pulled together a board of directors to raise funding.

After that first year of running salons and chamber music concerts, Colligan and Weiser created a summer camp that would run for seven years at Dartmouth and Kimball Union Academy, with her at the financial helm.

Even when Weiser moved to Asheville, N.C., and later to Baltimore, the pair continued running Classicopia.

“I will be forever indebted to Marcia for guiding our Classicopia ship from the beginning and will miss having her sure hand on the tiller,” Weiser said. He credits Colligan with showing him the ins and outs of running a nonprofit music organization.

Weiser, who these days has been performing piano concerts on Zoom, remains hopeful that Classicopia will remain a mainstay in the Upper Valley as in-person concerts return after the pandemic.

“Our success is a testament to her incredible business acumen, steadfast determination, and iron commitment to producing the best and most intimate musical experience in the Upper Valley,” said Weiser, who will take over many of the management roles Colligan had covered.

Colligan’s favorite venue is the Lebanon Congregational Church, which has housed many Classicopia performances. Her favorite piece of music is Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 in G Minor.

“I just wanted to play Chopin. That’s how all of this started,” Colligan said. “It’s a passion. It’s really a passion.”

Frances Mize can be reached for comment at fmize@vnews.com




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