Friday, July 22, 2011

Barefoot in Bellevue Park

July 21 was horribly horribly hot, but the First State Symphonic Band was cheerfully rehearsing in the giant band shell of Bellevue State Park as I arrived. Conductor Jonathan Wittman had a huge rag on a music stand in front of him so he could wipe his brow between numbers, but the band played on.

Most of the repertoire consisted of familiar marches, but an interesting experiment was the Alfred Reed Armenian Dances, a complex medley of tunes reminiscent of a Turkish bazaar. You could hear snake charmer themes and all sorts of exotic melodies as the band toured through the exotic five/eight rhythms.

Another fun surprise was a band piece by Joe Eigenbrot, a Bethlehem PA native and saxophonist in the band. His piece showed the Polish and German heritage reflected in the peoples and spirit of his native area.

Kids danced in front of the band, staff put on a bubble machine, dogs barked, and people ate dinner, wandered and enjoyed the informal atmosphere of a park concert.

Come to the next concerts, every Thursday and Sunday evening at 6:30 until August 28. Or if you prefer lunchtime concerts, they have one every other Wednesday through September 14 from noon to 1. (Don’t worry, there are lots of trees to shade you!)

The concerts are free, but there is a park charge of $3.00 if you do not have a State Park Sticker for your car.



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