A nice day for music in the park
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