Featuring two of the areas most beloved performers in a nostalgic evening, soprano Bess-Arlene Camacho and pianist Dave Belew will bring World War II Songbook to the stage on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Fairfield Community Arts Center.
“They are local favorites. Both Bess-Arlene Camacho and Dave Belew are very well-respected in the area,” said David Sheldrick, City of Fairfield Parks & Recreation marketing specialist. “Audiences can expect a night of great music. It’s going to be a wonderful performance.”
He said Camacho and Belew created the show and presented the idea for the concert to the Fairfield Community Arts Center. Last March, the duo performed a sold-out World War II songbook concert at the Fitton Center.
“It was very popular, it sold-out and a lot of people missed the opportunity to attend. That led to the concert at the Fairfield Community Arts Center,” Belew said.
A year ago, he got the idea for the show and talked to his longtime friend, Bess-Arlene about teaming up for the concert, because they both have an appreciation for the music.
“Bess-Arlene is so talented and so well-trained. She has performed all over the world. I have gotten to know her through the Hamilton Fairfield Symphony Orchestra, for which she’s performed many times,” Belew said. “Both of us are just totally passionate about World War II songs, so we work well together.”
“I have always been interested in World War II. I was 10 years old at the time of Pearl Harbor. My brother was in the Air Force and I started playing piano by ear when I was 6 years old at our neighbor’s house. We didn’t have a piano,” he continued.
Belew said his parents eventually bought a used upright piano at Christmastime and encouraged him to play.
“I followed my brother’s career by learning all of the World War II songs. My interest in the songs started there. Of course, I had a number of relatives involved in the War. They have just always stayed with me,” Belew said.
Throughout the evening, Camacho and Belew will play or sing about 50 World War II songs. A few of the songs audiences can expect to hear include “Paper Doll,” “As Time Goes By,” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” and “I’ll Be Seeing You.” They will also showcase a number of patriotic songs as well as songs from the Broadway musical “Oklahoma,” which includes a audience sing-along during the song, “Oklahoma.”
As a seasoned performer, Camacho’s career has included high-profile performances in opera and musical theater, and on concert stages in 11 countries, including New York’s Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall. In addition to her performance schedule, Camacho is currently a Visiting Faculty member in the Music Department at Miami University Hamilton and is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. She was also recently recognized by the Fairfield City Council in honor of all her musical achievements and her continued support of the arts in Fairfield.
Belew has been playing the piano since age 6 and he continues to play at many community and fundraising events. As the former president of Beckett Paper Company, with a lifetime of musical contributions, he has tirelessly worked with many cultural and service organizations throughout Hamilton including the American Heart Association, the Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton, Lane Public Library and Open Door Pantry, among others. In 2002, the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony Orchestra renamed its signature concert series to the David L. Belew American Masters Concert Series.
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