A nice day for mu­sic in the park

Times Colonist - - Islander - MICHAEL D. REID

It’s one of this town’s cul­tural gems, and the price is right, so it’s no won­der the City of Vic­to­ria’s sum­mer­time Af­ter­noon Con­certs in the Park se­ries con­tin­ues to draw en­thu­si­as­tic crowds year af­ter year.

Last Mon­day’s fi­nal free con­cert of the sea­son in Bea­con Hill Park’s Cameron Band­shell was no ex­cep­tion, at­tract­ing an ev­er­chang­ing crowd over two hours on a glo­ri­ous late-sum­mer af­ter­noon.

The crowd of spec­ta­tors seated on lawn chairs, blan­kets or in rows of the out­door mu­sic venue’s clas­sic green seats were as eclec­tic as the mu­si­cal se­lec­tions pro­grammed through­out the sea­son.

This sum­mer’s lineup in­cluded Pro­hi­bi­tion-era jazz, Celtic, clas­si­cal, reg­gae, soul, rhythm and blues, swing, big band and blue­grass mu­sic in an at­tempt to cater to most tastes.

On Sept. 11, it was the mu­si­cal duo Decades Af­ter Paris, with Heather Lynn and Dan­ton Jay de­liv­er­ing au­di­ence-friendly doses of up­beat jazz, pop and folk mu­sic.

Ed Ge­orge, 85, said he has been com­ing to the free con­certs since the 1970s, and he isn’t about to stop now.

“It’s such a nice set­ting and they play mu­sic that I like. This is en­vi­ron­men­tal mu­sic,” said Ge­orge, who last spring even made some new friends dur­ing his jaunts.

“We met this fine gen­tle­man be­cause he shared a bench with us in the spring,” re­called Ray Toews, 67, who moved here from Man­i­toba last sum­mer with his wife Terry, 66.

“I love mu­sic and there’s no more beau­ti­ful park to come to come to,” Terry said. “To be able to lis­ten to some­thing you like in a set­ting like this is a dream come true.”

While she mul­ti­tasked on the lawn, El­iz­a­beth McDon­ald, 71, said she loved the mu­si­cal di­ver­sity — “to­day it’s folk, yes­ter­day it was big band” — dur­ing the con­cert se­ries.

“I have to do reg­u­lar ex­er­cise be­cause I have some phys­i­cal prob­lems, so I’m en­joy­ing the last days of sum­mer,” she said, wrap­ping up her fit­ness rou­tine while the duo per­formed the Ge­orge Gersh­win clas­sic Sum­mer­time.

Ruth Schreir, 72, was found re­lax­ing in a lawn chair, di­vid­ing her time be­tween read­ing Efraim Malevy’s Man in the Shad­ows and tak­ing in the mu­si­cal en­ter­tain­ment on­stage.

“It’s such a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing able to come and sit in the park like this,” she said.

“I think it’s won­der­ful that Vic­to­ria does this. You have to go out of the city to other places and come back to re­al­ize what a won­der­ful place this is.”

Carolyn Sad­owsky, 29, said she wasn’t aware these free con­certs took place un­til “we came stomp­ing through the trees” dur­ing a post-pic­nic walk in the park with her friend Ka­t­rina Brooke, 26.

“I haven’t been to these be­fore but I’ve been here for [Vic­to­ria Film Fes­ti­val’s] out­door movies,” said Brooke, her voice com­pet­ing with the sounds of the Stylis­tics hit You Make Me Feel Brand New.

For Anne Heinl, 66, it was a chance to spend time with her young grand­daugh­ter Ula-Kay and her dog Potts, a bor­der ter­rier, af­ter preschool.

“It’s a fun place to come to and great for the kids to learn about mu­sic and the out­doors, and it’s such a beau­ti­ful day,” said Heinl.

Decades Af­ter Paris plays as peo­ple come out for the jazz and pop mu­sic dur­ing the last Af­ter­noon Con­certs in the Park per­for­mance of the sea­son at the Cameron Band­shell in Bea­con Hill Park.

Me­lanie Cum­mins holds Caden Page-Cum­mins as he takes a nap.

Ruth Schreier lis­tens to the mu­sic while read­ing a book.

Terry Rostad and Rea Jansen were among more than 200 mu­sic fans at the con­cert.

Carolyn Sad­owsky, left, and Ka­t­rina Brooke

Roxy Hol­stein, left, and mom Cindy Steven

Ray Toews, left, Ed Ge­orge and Terry Toews

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