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08/24/2022 08:30 AM

Holly Fiss: Don’t Stop the Music

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

How it started: Holly Fiss and her husband Joe, who moved to Chester six years ago, wanted a destination for a walk through town. They had seen a poster advertising the Robbie Collomore concert series. Although neither of them had much musical background, they decided to walk to the Chester Meeting House to attend the performance.

“We loved the concert. It didn’t matter that we didn’t know very much about music,” Holly says.

The Result: Today Holly is a member of the board of the Collomore Concerts and involved in the publicity for the upcoming series.

And there is another more personal result from that first concert. Holly now downloads and listens to classical guitar music.

The Robbie Collomore Concerts, organized by its own board under the auspices of the Chester Historical Society, presents four programs in the fall, two classical and two ranging from blues and jazz to folk and international music.

On Sunday, Sept. 18, the concert will feature cellist Sterling Elliott and pianist Yi-Nuo Wang. Both artists, already winners of performance awards, are currently studying at Julliard. A New York Times article on summer musical festivals recently described Elliott as an “excellent young cellist.”

On Sunday, Oct. 9, the series will headline the Emmet Cohen Trio, a jazz group with Cohen on piano. On Sunday, Nov. 6, chamber music by the Noree Chamber Soloists and on Sunday, Nov. 20, French guitarist Stephane Wrembel, whose gypsy jazz echoes the music of the great gypsy jazz guitarist Django RIneheart.

All concerts are at the Chester Meeting House on Sundays at 5 p.m.

With three decades in advertising, Holly is working to expand the Collomore’s reach on social media, through both Facebook and Instagram. “We want to interest not only those who already come to Collomore concerts but to reach out to a new audience,” she says.

Holly’s posts include musical excerpts from the artists’ performances as well articles and press clips about them. One post recently featured the Emmet Cohen Trio playing an impromptu concert at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

Holly envisions Collomore’s media sites as more than just news about one series. She is including information about other concerts in Connecticut as well.

“I want to promote this series but promote others as well; anything in the state. We should cross-promote, share and inspire people about things they had not thought of attending,” she says.

Holly, who grew up in Marblehead, Massachusetts, knew as early as ninth grade that she wanted to go into advertising. “I was interested in design, in typography,” she recalls. “I had a family member in the advertising business who encouraged me.”

In college, she studied advertising at Syracuse University. “I came out with a degree in advertising and art direction and go placed right out of school,” she says.

She has worked at large agencies, freelanced, and won many awards for her work. “I love writing funny things,” she says, adding she also loves doing work for television.

According to Holly, the secret of doing good advertising is the ability to put oneself in the shoes of the consumer. “That’s when advertising does well; when you put yourself in the position of the end user,” she says.

Joe’s job in manufacturing took them to cities all over the United States, from Boston to Minneapolis, Chicago and Philadelphia. Along the way, Holly has done work for such name brand clients as Johnson & Johnson, Ocean Spray, Thomasville Furniture and Scandinavian Airlines.

Doing work for apparel manufacturer Hanes, she spent a day with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, who retired in 1995 and was elected to the National Football League Hall of Fame in 2000.

“What a great guy,” she says. “I wonder how many people remember him now?”

She also recalls times working with other celebrity spokespeople like Seinfeld’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Olympic speedskater Bonnie Blair, who won five gold medals and one bronze at Olympics from 1988 to 1994.

Now she is working for The Hartford, the insurance and investment company headquartered in Connecticut. She commutes several days a week but also has a home office. Even with more people driving into the office, she says the commute to Hartford has changed, as a result of COVID.

“Much less traffic now,” she reports.

When she is not working, Holly describes herself as a baker, and a gardener. “I just love sitting on the sun porch surrounded by green,” she says. “I’ve been here six years and it is hard to describe how much better I feel.”

Holly has used her media savvy to help local organizations before. When she and Joe lived outside Minneapolis, she helped a small historical society put together an exhibit, doing visuals and displays. “I just loved helping that organization,” she remembers.

At the moment, she is eager to bring her professional abilities to the Robbie Collomore Concerts. “I was looking for a place could use my business skills,” she says. “And, besides, I believe in volunteering. It is so important.”

For information and tickets for the Robbie Collomore concerts visit

Information also available on Collomore’s Facebook page and on Instagram.