Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Concert Finale

I can't believe tonight is the last Concert on the Square of the season. Where have the past six weeks gone?! How can summer be almost over already? It simply doesn't seem possible, yet here we are in the final week of July, only three days before August descends upon us.

Concerts on the Square is a Madison tradition now in its 26th year. Performed by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra on the grounds of the State Capitol, the concerts are free (donation supported) and held over six successive Wednesday evenings during the summer. People are allowed to set blankets out on the lawn starting at 3pm, and lawn chairs can be set up in the two streets near where the orchestra sets up. It's like a picnic with a few thousand of your closest friends and neighbors.

Although their "American Celebration" concert usually draws the biggest crowd, this year's saw a smaller than usual turnout due to iffy weather and being rescheduled to Thursday. While the weather for the season's first concert was stiffling, sweaters and sweatshirts were a must for celebrating our nation's birthday. The last few weeks have been much more temperate.

The biggest crowd was three weeks ago, for their "Blockbuster Movie" night, which included music from Superman, King Kong (2005), ET, Schindler's List, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. Kids in the crowd (as well as my friend Kim) were counting down to the Star Wars finale. The Square was packed nearly all the way around, from the King St. corner (bottom right) where the orchestra sets up on the Capitol terrace, around to Wisconsin Ave (top center) in one direction, and over to West Washington (left center) in the other. Space was only to be found in the sections bordering the State St. corner (upper left). We have taken to sitting along the sidewalk on East Washington, near the Capitol.

The colored boxes on the map represent information, merchandise, and over-priced food vendors (not a brat or burger--or any real "picnic fare" to be found among them). We usually stop somewhere en route for a picnic dinner, or pick up cold sandwiches and beverages at Walgreen's on the Square. The Chocolate Shoppe ice cream booth is the only vendor we frequent. We'd be willing to give business to others, were the selections not so pretentious.

While the majority of the music performed tends toward classical, there are some suprises every year. The "Blockbuster Movie" night, for example, or the oddest themed concert this season, "Verdi Meets Elvis." Only in a summer concert could you combine the music of Verdi and Beethoven with that of Elvis and Stephen Foster! This evening's offerings are all classical and include works by Bizet, Beethoven, Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov.

I leave you with a couple of crowd shots taken three weeks ago. As you can see, it is wall-to-wall people of all ages and ethnicity, enjoying a summer eve and great music together.

No comments: