|By Katelyn Gendron|
Reminder Assistant Editor
WEST SPRINGFIELD During the summer of 1963, the town offered six free concerts for the musical pleasure and cultural education of all who would listen.
Forty-five years later the summer Family Concert Series has evolved into a diverse calendar of performances over the course of 16 weeks, through Aug. 28.
Anthony Di Giore, cultural program coordinator for the Parks and Recreation Department, also the man responsible for the inception of the Family Concert Series, told Reminder Publications that he was unsure of how the public would respond to such an event. Forty-five years later, he added, that the event has exceeded his every expectation.
Di Giore noted that this year's theme "Music, It's Worth It!" resonates with him as a retired musical teacher in the West Springfield Public School System. He said he believes that the people of West Springfield must share his thirst for music because between 200 and 300 people attend each concert.
Over the next several weeks concerts featuring Dane Kane and Friends, The Moon Ridge Band, Cruisin' with the Crooners, the Richie Mitnick Ensemble and the Heritage "Pops" Orchestra will take place at various venues including Storrowton Village, the town green and Landmark and Monastery Heights.
"We try to offer a wide variety of different types of music," Domenic Longo Jr., director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said. "[We] believe this is a great program for the residents in the community . primarily offering local talent an opportunity to perform."
He noted that since becoming the first community west of Framingham to offer a free summer concert series, many local celebrities have graced their stage such as Ashley Gearing a native of Westfield, who was the youngest entertainer ever to chart on Billboard's Hot Country Singles. She will be performing at The Big E on Sept. 19.
Longo said this concert series allows many local performers to showcase their talents to every demographic as well as the opportunity to further develop his or her stage presence.
Longo noted that despite tight fiscal times the department has still been able to provide the concert series by "embarking on a sponsorship campaign to supplement the budget." He added that many local businesses have offered to sponsor concerts in order to continue to expose residents to family-friendly activities that enhance cultural and musical awareness.
For more information about the Family Concert Series go to www.west-springfield.ma.us.
The following is a list of the remaining performers for the 45th Annual Outdoor Summer Concert Series:
July 10: Dan Kane and Friends at the Storrowton Village Green from 7 - 8:30 p.m.*
July 17: The Moon Ridge Band at Storrowton Village Green from 7 - 8:30 p.m.*
July 24: Cruisin' With The Crooners at Landmark and Monastery Heights from 7 - 8:30 p.m.*
July 31: Pat Rhondy's Circus Band at Landmark and Monastery Heights from 7 - 8:30 p.m.*
Aug. 5: Camp Carnival from 6:30 - 8 p.m., and Family Outdoors Movie at 8 p.m., at West Springfield Middle School.
Aug. 7: Richie Mitnick Ensemble at Landmark and Monastery Heights from 7 - 8:30 p.m.*
Aug. 14: The Interplay Jazz Band at Landmark and Monastery Heights from 7 - 8:20 p.m.
Aug. 21: The Heritage "Pops" Orchestra at Landmark and Monastery Heights from 7 - 8:30 p.m.*
Aug. 28: Ethel Lee Ensemble at Landmark and Monastery Heights from 7 - 8:30 p.m.*
* In the event of inclement weather, programs will take place in the West Springfield Middle School Auditorium. To find out if there is a weather related cancellation of a program, call 781-3020 after 3:30 p.m., or go to www.west-springfield.ma.us.
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