Thursday, June 26, 2008

Music In The Park

Starting in June of each year, Lewisburg sponsors music in the park. This is one of the great entertainment bargains available anywhere: there’s no charge to attend, and you can take along your own seating and snacks. The park in question is Hufnagel. The music varies.

Hufnagel Park sits in the western third of the downtown business district. It is a narrow block, but quite deep with a creek along one side, and a railroad track along the other. Near Market Street (the main street), there are ornamental plantings and stairs leading down from the sidewalk. A level lawn stretches toward the back of the park where a gazebo sits at the bottom of a modest brick and concrete amphitheatre.

Music in the park happens each Wednesday evening at 7:00. Over the years, we’ve heard performances by the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, the Lewisburg High School Marching Band, the Susquehanna Valley Chorale, the Penn Central Wind Band, and more. We’ve heard big band music, classical, jazz, pop(s), and folk.

The performances are usually entertaining, if not, then at least technically very good or better. Some draw bigger crowds than others, but they always draw more people than could watch comfortably from the amphitheatre seating. So, the performers usually set up facing the level lawn, (rather than the amphitheatre), and patrons bring chairs and blankets with which they make haphazard patterns across the park.

Perhaps the most popular show each year is Stars, Stripes, and Souza performed by the Penn Central Wind Band. The band plays music that John Sousa’s band would have played—some of his original works, and some written by his contemporaries. I counted about 700 people in the audience this year which seems like a small number until you realize that’s nearly a tenth the population of Lewisburg.

It’s not surprising to find so many Sousa fans in Lewisburg. Many will return for upcoming performances by a brass band, a big band, a symphony band, a trumpet duo, traditional Celtic music, a jazz duo, and the Lewisburg High School marching band—all on the remaining schedule. If you live in Lewisburg, you’re bound to see people you know at these concerts. If you don’t live here, you’re still likely to feel welcome.

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