GETTING ACQUAINTED: Participants are shown at the initial Do-Re-Meet speed-dating event, which was followed by a Princeton University Concerts program at Richardson Auditorium. Another round of Do-Re-Meet “Social Events for Music Lovers” is this Sunday. (Photo by Felicity Audet)
By Anne Levin
When Princeton University Concerts (PUC) launched its Do-Re-Meet series mixing social events with classical music performances last December, creators of the program were confident that it would be a success. So they weren’t exactly surprised when it sold out and a long waiting list formed. This enthusiasm inspired the addition of a second speed-dating event, to be paired with two concerts by the Chiaroscuro String Quartet this Sunday, March 26.
“We really believed in the concept from the beginning,” said Marna Seltzer, PUC director. “We were pretty sure that if we got people together over a shared love of music that they would respond.”
PUC partnered with The Singles Group to come up with the concept in the aftermath of the pandemic shutdowns. Several pre-concert events are offered, including speed-dating, Find Your Friends speed-friending, and LGBTQ+ Single Mingle (presented in partnership with the Princeton University Gender + Sexuality Resource Center). Participants meet for socializing and hors d’oeuvres at the Maclean House on the campus, and then walk together to nearby Richardson Hall to attend a concert of PUC’s Performances Up Closer series.
The goal is to provide new points of connection through music. “Listening to live music is such a communal experience,” said Seltzer. “And there are many ways we lean into this. I was really struck, during the pandemic and the virtual concerts we presented, how many people would say that they really missed the people they sat next to. It was like a mini-community, and they missed that.”
On Sunday, there will be two versions of Do-Re-Meet, both paired with a performance by the Chiaroscuro String Quartet. First, at 1 p.m., is a speed-dating event for those seeking heterosexual connections, for age groups 24-39, 40-59, and 60-plus. (A LGBTQ+ event is on April 12). The quartet performs at 3 p.m. Their second concert, at 6 p.m., follows a 4 p.m. Find Your Friends gathering. Music of Beethoven and Mendelssohn that was inspired by love is on the program.
At the initial events last December, “The entire Maclean House was bustling the whole time,” said Dasha Koltunyuk, PUC’s outreach manager (who met her husband at a PUC concert several years ago). “It was really magical to see people come into the space so eager to meet one another. It was such a beautiful thing. And the way everyone went to talking about music so quickly helped people feel comfortable right away.”
The different age groups met in different rooms. “You could tell the approach was different among each group,” Koltunyuk said. “The oldest took it more seriously; the youngest were very excited. We have some statistics: An average of 60 percent matches, which we’re told is very high. And the youngest age group was actually 100 percent; the oldest 65 percent.”
The March 26 gatherings are catered by Tipple & Rose Tea Parlor and Apothecary, and Olsson’s Fine Foods. The LGBTQ+ Single Mingle on April 12, which will precede a concert by jazz vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant, will be catered by Tipple & Rose, and held in their restaurant on Nassau Street.
“We wanted to make sure we came up with a set of social events that were completely inclusive,” said Seltzer. “There is something for everybody. Not everyone is looking for love, and not everyone is looking for just friendship. There are all sorts of reasons to get together.”
For more information, visit concerts.princeton.edu.