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House Concerts at Gary Lysaght's "River House"

Written by Cary Burkett, Arts & Culture Desk and WITF Host | Aug 3, 2017 5:40 PM

Gary Lysaght is a criminal defense attorney in Harrisburg. You may have seen his billboards advertising his expertise in dealing with DUI's.

But Lysaght has long had ambitions in another area as well.He says he's wanted to be a builder/architect since he went to college. He estimates he has designed and built eight to ten homes. 

His "riverhouse" is the latest of these, situated next to Fort Hunter on the east bank of the Susquehanna, close to the Rockville Bridge.  He bought the lot 3 years ago, and says he spent about a year building his design for the residence.

"I came down here and I looked at the lot," says Lysaght, "and I saw the fish, and I saw the eagles and I saw the trains, and my design for the house was such that I wanted to be able to always see all the activity and the life on the river."

The house features a large gallery-style room with a vaulted ceiling overlooks the Susquehanna through a wall of glass made of sixteen patio-size windows, eight below and eight above. The windows wrap around the ends of the room to that the view has a 3-dimenional persective. Color and design is kept minimalistic, in order not to distract from the sweeping view of the river. The floor is varnished rock-maple, recycled from the gymnasium of a school that closed down.

Lysaght's neighbor, well-known violinist Odin Rathnam, dropped in one day, having seen Lysaght's piano in the window, and hoped he might be able to secure the space for some studio lessons. But as he made his way around the space, he immediately noted another quality of the room. It had rich and vibrant acoutics.

"Look at what resembles acoustical paneling on the walls," Rathnam points out. "Look at the high-vaulted ceilings, the maple floors. The reflective surfaces allow for reverb without over-boominess. There are all kinds of deflectors in place so you can have that sense of space. This is set up acoustically perfectly."

 It didn't take long for an idea to be birthed. The room, with its magnificent view of sunsets over the river, its spaciousness and its live acoustics seemed an ideal venue for a series of evening house concerts. One such concert has already taken place, with Odin Rathnam joined by pianist John Nauman.

Lysaght is himself a music lover, but says he has no strong background in classical music. He sees part of his role as making sure that the choice of music performed has a strong appeal for listeners of different backgrounds. 


Feedback from the first concert caused Lysaught in install central air in the room and add spotlights for the stage area. The next program will feature popular pieces by Gershwin, Kreisler, Vivaldi and others related to heat and summer. 

Gary Lysaght is eager to continue exploring the possiblities, "If we could fuse together here in this environment that sanctity that the river gives you, and put this together with your audio experience, do we get another level of appreciation? I mean how far can we go to become intoxicated by just music and the environment?" 

The next concert will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 12. More information is available at Odin's website. 

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