Naples String

Larry Greenfield, Alan Mautner and Elaine Tubinis of Naples Strings performs at a neighborhood concert.

Pop, rock and a little bit of Bach.

That's what listeners can expect to hear when the trio strings band, Naples Strings, shows up to play. 

"We've been playing together for a long time, so there wasn't much of an adjustment," violinist Elaine Tubinis said. "You just pick up your violin and entertain; that's the job."

Typically, performances have been at wedding venues, bar mitzvahs and other celebrations. But in 2020, they're taking many of their performances to the streets.  

Tubinis formed the band alongside fellow violinist Larry Greenfield in 1982. They performed regularly on the rooftop during Sunday brunch at the former No Name Cafe in Naples. Around that time they started to expand their professional repertoire and played at weddings and parties.

A few years later in 1987, cellist Alan Mautner was introduced to the group, and the rest is history.

Now in the pandemic, the trio plays on. While weddings and celebrations are still happening on a smaller scale, Naples Strings is inviting folks to hire them to play on their block. For $300, the band will entertain neighbors for an hour and play pre-selected songs by request.

"It's so fun seeing people grab their lawn chairs and a drink and enjoy the show," Tubinis said. "We're noticing people will organize together and pitch in for the show, so it's a community thing that brings neighborhoods together."

She added that people have been diligent about maintaining social distancing and staying around their own household. The trio will play in an open space such as a driveway or lawn and once the show is over, they pack up and leave.

"It's a fun change, and seeing people get excited is the best," Tubinis said. "We get to have a little bit of fun with it and go, 'Maybe we should start with a really slow eight measure of Bach then segue into something fun to dance to."

Mautner added that the show brings a little bit of normalcy back to neighborhoods. While he was concerned about performing during the pandemic at first, he said that his mind was put at ease once they played their first COVID-concert back in May.

"It was great to be playing again in front of people, but more important I saw how much our audience were appreciative to be able to hear live music again," he said. "It was almost as if someone’s driveway was a mini-Hollywood Bowl.  We could see people having fun, bringing food and wine but of course minding the protocols of the virus."

And most importantly, adjusting one's craft to meet the needs of the situation is a part of the job, he added.

"During these difficult times, I think people are looking for some way to bring a type of normalcy back into their lives," Mautner said. "As we are now looking at our 25th concert since May, we are also looking ahead to the last few months of the year and toward the holiday season.  It is my hope that we can continue these concerts and give our patrons some Christmas cheer as we end what has been a very tough year for all."

Greenfield, a Juilliard graduate, said he was concerned at first about what future performances would look like. He wasn't a fan of Zoom concerts, but small, intimate concerts seemed like the perfect alternative.  

"I've been so grateful and excited about doing the mini COVID concerts over the last half a year. It's not only a chance to perform, but about the only chance for people to once again hear real music, played live and proper," he said. "Not only that, but instead of having to deal with traffic and parking to go to a live concert, we bring it right to someone's street or yard."

With the extra precautions the band has taken to ensure a socially-distanced event, Greenfield added that he feels confident in both the safety and entertainment value that Naples Strings has to offer.

"Due to the more intimate nature of the setting, we're also able to engage with the audience, take requests and answer all kinds of questions people may have about music or what we do," he said. "And we've found a way to be able to do that while still ensuring everyone stays safe. My dad’s in his 90s and I look after him every day, so that’s very important to me."

People can reach out to the Naples Strings trio directly by emailing Elaine Tubinis at elaine@naplesstrings.com

Organizers will receive a list of songs to choose from, including classical and popular music. An open performance space also is required (including patios, lawns and driveways).

For more information, go to naplesstrings.com.

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at sstutzman@gazettes.com.

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