West Chester Symphony to bring patriotic tunes

Members of the West Chester Symphony Orchestra perform at a previous concert at Keehner Park. CONTRIBUTED

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Members of the West Chester Symphony Orchestra perform at a previous concert at Keehner Park. CONTRIBUTED

Keehner Park hosts concert series.

West Chester Symphony Orchestra will bring an evening of patriotic music to Keehner Park on Saturday, July 1, when the group performs as part of the West Chester Concert Series. The evening will also feature a community ice cream social.

“It’s a real nice event, and it is very family friendly,” said Susan Schirmer, the orchestra’s conductor.

Schirmer said the orchestra has performed at the park for 20 years. She said, typically, you see a lot of families turnout for the evening. The concert is generally well attended, drawing 400 to 500 guests.

“We always have a patriotic theme to it, and sometimes we extend that out to other Americana styles. This year we are including selections from the Great American Songbook,” Schirmer said.

“We are celebrating lots of different American music,” she said.

Audiences can expect to hear songs such as “God Bless America,” from Irving Berlin, to “The Way You Look Tonight,” by Jerome Kern.

The evening will kick-off with the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The orchestra will also perform the National Anthem of Canada, “O Canada,” because July 1 is the 150th anniversary of the founding of Canada. During intermission, audiences will enjoy the ice cream social.

A choir of about 30 voices, including area church choir members and students from Lakota, will also join the orchestra, and sing on several of the songs.

“Live music performances are very important. We are in this day and age when everything is instantaneous. You can go and download whatever piece of music you want to hear, and put it on your personal device and take it with you, but there is something special about the communal activity of coming together and being part of an audience at a concert,” Schirmer said.

“There’s also something very special about the musicians coming together to create music, and that interaction between an audience and performers is something you don’t get in a recording. Patriotic concerts go back in this country to right after the Civil War, and that tradition has been going on since then,” she said.

West Chester Symphony Orchestra is made up of about 60 members, including strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. About 10 members have been with the orchestra since its inception.

The group performs about six to eight free concerts per year. West Chester Symphony orchestra will return to the park on Labor Day to wrap up the season’s concert series.

“We were the first concert-ever in Keehner Park. We were there when the amphitheater was dedicated, and that was Labor Day of 1997, and we’ve continued with that tradition,” Schirmer said.

Contact this contributing writer at gmwriteon@aol.com.

How to go

What: West Chester Concert Series

Where: Keehner Park Amphitheatre, 7211 Barret Road, West Chester

When: 7-9 p.m. Saturdays

On Saturday, June 24: Southwestern Ohio Symphonic Band

On Saturday, July 1: West Chester Symphony Orchestra – Ice cream social

Cost: Free

Details: Guests may bring chairs. Picnics are welcome. Alcohol is not permitted.

More info: For a complete schedule, go online to www.WestChesterOH.org.

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