Summer Symphony Stories: Susan Davies and Doug Price
In anticipation of Summer Symphony‘s return to Colorado Springs this month, we’ve invited members of the community to share their memories and impressions of this exciting event. This is the sixth post in a series. Next up: Pam Shockley-Zalabak and Al Buettner.
Words by Susan Davies, Executive Director, Trails and Open Space Coalition:
For me, parks and music belong together like a cello and its bow. Each brings out the best in the other.
Some of my earliest childhood memories involve hearing our Fox Valley Symphony or community band in our City Park. It was Wisconsin, so there was additional percussion as people slapped mosquitoes. No cell phones, tablets, or texting – no distractions at all except the sounds of laughing children, birds singing their evening songs and the music. There were three to four concerts each summer – weather permitting. Midwestern thunderstorms at dusk can be ferocious. But when the weather cooperated, people brought lawn chairs, picnic baskets, and plastic pitchers of kool-aid. Our symphony was small but they were ours and sounded wonderful. There wasn’t a frown in the crowd.
As an adult, I lived in Pittsburgh for close to a decade. Many Sunday mornings during the summer, members of the Pittsburgh Symphony would perform in Schenley Park – a 400 acre municipal park in the heart of Pittsburgh. Vendors would sell pastries, coffee, and the local newspaper. We’d meet up with friends, spread blankets, buy brunch, and read the Sunday paper to the sounds of Mozart or Chopin. If someone felt frisky there was a Frisbee to toss. Music in the park on Sunday mornings became a weekly favorite – followed by a hike in the Laurel Highlands or Chestnut Ridge.
After that I spent eight years in Cleveland. Blossom Music Center is the summer home of the Cleveland Orchestra. Just 28 miles south near the Cuyahoga river, several times each summer we would sit on a magnificent green hillside lawn with as many as 13,000 other enchanted fans, surrounded on two sides by a mature forest and listen to one of this country’s great orchestras. Even with that many people there was a shared intimacy with the musicians, the trees, and the music. It felt as if a magnificent sensual feast had been spread like a picnic before each of us. And we were all dining together.
Both the Pittsburgh Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra have marvelous halls. Carnegie and Severance are among the best. But personally, given a choice – I’ll take music in the park every time. I was thrilled to hear that our Colorado Springs Philharmonic is offering a Summer Symphony Series. Of course here in the dry west, the percussion section won’t compete with “mosquito-swatting.” I’ll be there with my family and picnic basket.
Words by Doug Price, President & CEO, Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau:
Having been a resident of large cities including Philadelphia, Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, FL and even working in Washington D.C., I’ve been exposed to a multitude of arts and cultural offerings that range from theater and dance to concerts. Upon arriving in the Colorado Springs area in 2011 as the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau as the new President & CEO, I was delighted to learn what a rich culture our region is home to. Places like the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Pikes Peak Center and Theatreworks offer amazingly creative outlets to that both residents and travelers coming into the area can enjoy. A huge piece of this fantastic performance scene, and a gem of our area, is the Colorado Springs Philharmonic.
Because of this fantastic organization, classical music has been alive and well in the area since 1927. In 1973, the Summer Symphony series began, and after a long four-year hiatus, will return in 2013. The series expects to draw more than 100,000 in attendance over the course of these four performances alone. This program provides an opportunity to further enrich our area’s access to the arts and even better, at no cost. This program is also being reignited in a year where it will celebrate its 40th anniversary of the series itself.
I myself had the pleasure of attending two Philharmonic concerts last year and am excited that so many will get to experience this treasure once again. Based on a study done by the Americans for the Arts (AFTA) and the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), it was reiterated that the role of an organization such as the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau is to tell the true and unique story of the Pikes Peak region. This also includes being stewards for the sustainability of “place-based assets” including the cultural environment. In this same study, it was revealed that 5 percent of U.S. travelers’ primary reason for travel to a destination was specifically for a concert, play, or dance. Offering performances such as the Summer Symphony help entice these types of travelers while providing a more robust experience for travelers coming here for other reasons.
Activities such as the Philharmonic help tell that unique story that is Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region, and one of the many reasons I personally and professionally support their efforts and encourage them to continue to find ways to make events such as these continue to thrive. Not only does the organization offer an outlet for talented musicians, it also adds to our extensive arts scene which we wish to continue to nurture and grow.
These concerts are taking place in conjunction with some amazing community efforts including the rebuild of Mountain Shadows after the Waldo Canyon Fire, the exciting return of a Colorado Springs pastime with fireworks in Memorial Park for Independence Day, a continuation of America’s pride at Sky Sox Stadium and even a Journey tribute. I urge our residents and travelers to experience the return of the Summer Symphony Series and know that they can be enriched here just as much as anywhere else in the country.