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Gretna Music has announced its summer lineup for 2023, with a calendar of events including 14 mainstage concerts, world premieres, and various free events
Suzanne Stewart, Gretna Music‘s executive director for 11 summers and a Visit Lebanon Valley board member, spoke with LebTown about the summer 2023 season.
The lineup of mainstage concerts will start with Time for Tango’s world premiere on June 18.
“The first concert, Time for Tango, it’s the first time these three musicians are playing together. And that is going to be a great concert,” Stewart said. “You can’t hear that concert anywhere else.”
Mainstage concerts by Timberdale Brass on July 2 and Etienne Charles on July 7 will follow.
“One of the other exciting concerts is we love Eric Schweingruber, and he has a quintet called Timberdale Brass,” Stewart said. “Eric grew up in Lebanon County. He actually plays with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and he is a professor at Temple, but we love having him come back, too.”
Before the concert, Stewart said that there will be “a beer and barbecue with a local caterer, Chef on the Go: Becky Briody. She’s a local caterer in Mount Gretna, and … she’ll do a great barbecue buffet. And then, we’re going to have a local brewery and a local cidery come out and do some tastings at the barbecue.”
The Peking Acrobats will perform in a mainstage concert on July 8.
“We’re excited to have back for the second time because they were such a hit last time, the Peking Acrobats,” Stewart said. “We assume that that concert will sell out.”
“We’re going to be sharing the revenue from the tickets with our local fire department. The Mount Gretna Fire Department is trying to purchase a brand-new fire engine. I think it’s costing them like $800,000.”
Mim Enck was a supporter of Gretna Music and the owner of East Indies Coffee & Tea Company. When she passed away in 2021, the Mim Enck Charitable Foundation was created.
Stewart said that through the foundation, “she’s helping underwrite the Peking Acrobats and another concert in her honor.”
Following the sponsored concert, there will be mainstage concerts by Natasha Paremski on July 9 and Chanticleer on July 23.
“Besides the three great jazz concerts [this summer], we have Chanticleer, which will probably sell out,” Stewart said. “That’s the Grammy-winning [all-male acapella] group from San Francisco.”
Buster Williams will perform in a mainstage concert on July 29, followed by Sona Jobarteh on July 30 and Take 6 on Aug. 11.
“This summer, we have three jazz concerts, and we are so excited to be having Take 6. They are a 10-time Grammy winner. They are [an] acapella group that, I think, they won most of their Grammys in the ’80s and the ’90s,” Stewart said. “But they do a little bit of everything. … They do a little gospel, a little R&B, a little blues, a little jazz, and a little bit of everything.”
Mainstage concerts by Chuchito Valdes on Aug. 12, Wunderkinds on Aug. 13, Galvin Cello Quartet on Aug. 27, Wister Quartet with pianist Marcantonio Barone on Sept. 3, and the Sebastians on Sept. 10 will follow.
“We’re so excited about this season,” Stewart said.
Many of the season’s mainstage concerts will feature Gretna Music’s First Listen.
“First Listen takes local talented youth, and they get to do a mini-concert before the mainstage concerts. It’s become very much a fan favorite,” Stewart said. “And it gives an opportunity for young people in the area to perform [in front of really encouraging audiences] and meet the professional musicians.”
In terms of the organizational process behind the season, Stewart said that it is “an ongoing process. … We have eyes on musicians, and sometimes it’ll take us years before we actually get them to the stage.”
According to Stewart, Gretna Music’s six-person artistic committee meets to brainstorm and discuss ideas for the season. In addition, the nonprofit’s artistic director, Carl Kane, considers the season as a whole to balance the different types of music and other aspects.
Steward said, “One of the little processes we have is before [Kane] books anything, he runs it past the committee to make sure everybody is on board with the program and the performer.”
In addition to the mainstage production lineup, there will be a world premiere of an original composition. Allen Krantz is a guitarist and professor at Temple. He was so inspired by one of his students, Gabriel Locati, who is a mandolin player, that he wrote a piece in honor of him.
“We started this during COVID, and everybody loves it, so we kept doing it. The nature center at Governor Dick will have a free event there on June 25, and it’s just a pretty little setting right next to the nature center. I call it my little grassy knoll. And it’s just like a little slight hill, and we’ve set the musicians up … with the woods … in their background. And then, people bring their blankets and chairs and it’s kind of a nice thing.”
Gretna Music for Kids (GM4K) offers family programming, all of which is free.
“We have six events that are all free for kids and families,” Stewart said. “The studies and the findings show that if you are introduced to music and you are taken to cultural performances as a young person, you are more likely to come to performances when you are older, and then once you have kids, you are more likely to bring your kids to … performances. And that is one of the things we keep in the back of the mind: we want to make sure we expose this next generation to music and great music.”
This season, their free events include a build-an-organ event, a drum circle, a Hello Cello! event, and a Mr. Music from Pennsylvania PBS sing-along.
“We were just blown away at how great [Lenny Tepsich a.k.a. Mr. Music] was with connecting with the young people,” Stewart said. “He teaches them songs, and they’re singing, and they’re dancing around, and he was just amazing.”
Other ways that Lebanon County residents can get involved with Gretna Music include volunteering at the Mount Gretna Playhouse’s concession stand. Gretna Music is responsible for running the concession stand for all the nonprofits, including Gretna Theatre and the Cicada Festival, that rent the space.
Read more: Gretna Theatre presents its summer 2023 lineup for its 96th season
“If you go onto our website, there will be a list where you can sign up to work in the concession stand,” Stewart said. “We give you a quick little training. It’s not really that hard. The people who do it seem to have fun with it.”
At 10 a.m. on July 2, Lancaster’s Big Boy Brass Band will perform in a free jazz worship service.
In addition, Stewart said that “Gretna Music’s Mount Gretna Tour of Homes is a big one. We usually get 700 to 900 people coming to see the houses. And we are so lucky that the people at Mount Gretna are so generous and so kind that they open their doors. We usually have about 10 to 12 houses on the tour.”
Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Aug. 5, attendees will receive a wristband, booklet, and a write-up on each house and then will be given the opportunity to tour the houses.
“It’s amazing, absolutely amazing, how people decorate their homes,” Stewart said. “So many people make sure that they honor the tradition and the history of their cottages and their homes in Mount Gretna. But then again, there was a little house in Campmeeting last year that had a giant studio, a theater, and a movie theater in their upstairs, which is amazing.”
On Aug. 26, Gretna Music will participate in the 10th annual International Make Music On Your Porch Day.
“We’ve never done [it], and I don’t think anyone in Lebanon County has done it yet,” Stewart said. “It’s always the last Saturday in August. And this organization has been doing it, and over 70 countries have done it, and people in every state have done it. So, we’re going to give it a try in Mount Gretna.”
On that date, musicians will perform on porches from 3 to 5 p.m.
Stewart said, “If there’s any local musicians that would like to come perform on somebody’s porch … that would be great because we’re trying to match people that have neat porches with musicians to play on those porches for that day.”
Tickets for the season are on sale now. Gretna Music’s website has more details about the events and other opportunities to get involved.
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