By JON OFFREDO
August 13, 2012
HYANNIS — Sitting on a bench next to her partner of 12 years, Helen McVeigh, 66, pats her heart and tries to explain how the songs of Barbra Streisand resonate with her.
About 50 yards away, backed by the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, Ann Hampton Callaway is belting out a medley of Streisand tunes during the 27th annual TD Bank Pops by the Sea concert at the Hyannis Village Green.
McVeigh and Bobby Hallstein, 82, who live in Yarmouthport, look on and are locked in an embrace as the sounds of the string, brass and woodwind sections fill a humid summer night.
The two have known each other since 1968, and Hallstein served as the best man when she married Walter in 1970. Her husband died in a freak accident in 1993.
“It’s like being at the bottom of a well and breathing through a straw — losing someone that is such a huge part of your life,” she said.
Hallstein helped McVeigh get her life back in order and they’ve been partners for 12 years now. They have come to hear the Pops play for at least six years.
Sitting next to Bobby, she said that recovering from that sort of loss, and finding a partner and friend, isn’t something you actively try to do — it just happens when the time is right.
The tunes that came from the white tent, McVeigh said, reminded her of her late husband, the grief and rebuilding that followed. At times, she wiped tears from her eyes.
“It’s a gift to Cape Cod (to have the Pops), and those who don’t partake, I feel badly for them,” she said. “There’s nothing like live music.”
Around them, thousands of people parked themselves on lawn chairs, sprawled out on blankets and sat at VIP tables while the orchestra belted out renditions of “Dancing Queen” and the “1812 Overture” as the evening progressed.
This year’s special guest conductor, Jim Belushi, led the Pops in a rendition of “Fiddle Faddle” while he waved his baton around like an accomplished Hogwarts student and shook his rump to the tune, much to the delight of some in the crowd.
“What an honor it is to be here,” Belushi, who said he played the violin when he was younger, told the crowd. “I have my official stick. It has my name on it.”
Part of the night’s celebration was to commemorate the late Lou Colombo, the Cape’s famed trumpeter, who died earlier this year.
Walking toward the tent where kettle corn was popping, Dawna Hammers held her grandniece, Lexi Bates, in her arms and sauntered while “Everything’s Coming up Roses” was played.
Just last year, Hammers, a singer, said she performed with Colombo at his restaurant and her father played saxophone with him.
“This is about sharing the music with the next generation, passing it on to her (Lexi), as it was passed on to me,” Hammers said.