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Encore Kicks off “Music in the Park” Sunday

June 22, 2011

06/23/11 Encore Performing Arts will be kicking off their 2011 Music in the Park (MITP) season at the Young Amphitheater on Sunday, June 26. This is the sixth year for the outdoor venue.

“It’s grown every year and become one of the biggest parts of our season,” Debi Gidley, executive director, commented. And it’s free though the audience is encouraged to bring a non-perishable food donation or make a monetary donation to benefit the Marshall County Neighborhood Center’s food pantry.

Unlike other Friday and Saturday night concerts, the gates will open at 3 p.m. followed by the concert at 4 p.m. For the past few years, the Programming Committee has offered a family-friendly concert and the band, Sentimental Journey, fills the bill.

The band was formed in 1992 when a small group got together along with the help of the band director at Triton High School with members mainly from Marshall County. They are dedicated to preserving the Big Band Era style of music. Though their repertoire consists mostly of music from the big-band era, they play some tunes from the ‘50s and ‘60s as well. Much of the music they play was made famous by composers and band leaders like Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and others of the Big Band Era.

Steve Weissert is the band leader and a trumpet player from Bourbon. The group boasts musicians as young as high school students up to 88-year-old original, Jim Schoonover, a sax player from Culver. The size of the group varies and currently has between 15 and 20 members. Former Mayor Jim Yeazel played with them at one time.

They have played all over the area including South Bend and the Blueberry Festival, nursing homes, senior living facilities, community activities, class reunions, weddings, ballroom style dances, festivals and just about anything else they are asked to play for.

Any funds raised from donations help with expenses, equipment or for a scholarship fund at Triton High School where graduating students who have joined and participated in the band for a length of time are eligible for scholarship money.

The park has removed the benches in front of the stage which has been replaced with grass. The sports bleachers remain at the back of the venue. Gidley commented that both artists and concert goers felt the crowds weren’t close enough to the performers. Picnic tables offer comfortable seating. Bring a lawn chair, your favorite beverage and a picnic to enjoy this special music in a delightful setting. As in past years, Delta Theta Tau sorority will be doing concessions. Each performance will feature a special offering that reflects the group performing.  On Sunday, they will be featuring an ‘ice cream social’ with all the toppings, lemonade and popcorn.

For more information, contact Debi Gidley at Encore Performing Arts, 1305 W. Harrison Street, Plymouth at 935-4987.