What makes this summer’s Galena Festival of the Performing Arts so special? For the past 17 years the Festival has delighted audiences with a variety of high quality music brought to Galena for this event. The Tri-State area is full of musical talent and opportunities to enjoy an evening out listening to a performance. So how is the upcoming Festival different?
Be prepared for a Festival of Fun this year! The performers for the 18th annual Galena Festival of the Performing Arts were chosen for their uniqueness, their excellence, and their ability to provide pure enjoyment. Of course, a lovely evening of classical music is still offered, with one of the musicians brought all the way from Maryland to ensure a world class performance. The Festival’s opening act will be a Shakespearean frolic that will have the audience grinning at the “Bard’s” antics. And the grand finale of the Festival will be an outdoor concert in lovely Grant Park complete with a New Orleans-inspired brass band and your own picnic lunch. It’s a lot to see and do, and a very special weekend indeed! Read on for more details.
Wednesday, July 11, 12 p.m. – To Be! Shakespeare Here and Now
Ron Scot Fry is a professional first-person actor who also happens to double as a stunt-man, college teacher, fire-eater, clown, improv-artist, and jouster. Shakespeare knew how to use laughter to reach his audience, and “To Be!” continues in this glorious tradition. Dynamic interpretations of excerpts from some of Shakespeare’s most famous works are combined with a humorous look at life in Renaissance England. There will also be plenty of opportunities for audience members to star alongside The Bard of Avon. Ron Scot Fry is the founding Artistic Director of Optimist Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was the Artistic Director for the Bristol Renaissance Faire for 19 years. “To Be!” has been enjoyed by more than 60,000 people since its debut in 1993. Bring your own bag lunch if you like, and eat while you enjoy the show. Water and iced tea will be provided by the Festival, and cookies will be available for purchase. And who knows? Perhaps you can live the fantasy and be part of the sword fight!
Thursday, July 12, 7:30 p.m. – Classical Night with Cellist Clancy Newman and Violinist Jasmine Lin
Clancy Newman and Jasmine Lin have many things in common. Both are dynamic musicians who have won multiple prestigious awards. Both have played nationally and internationally as soloists and as part of ensembles and orchestras. Ms. Lin has been a soloist with multiple symphonies in the United States and abroad, including the Chicago Symphony. She is a founding and current member of the Formosa Quartet and of Trio Voce, winning international acclaim for their performances and recordings of works by Mozart, Debussy, Schubert, and other great composers. Mr. Newman has performed as soloist throughout the United States, as well as in Europe, Asia, Canada, and Australia, and is a sought-after chamber musician.
Both began their musical training at a very young age – Ms. Lin started playing violin at the age of four, and Mr. Newman began playing cello when he was six, winning a gold medal in his first major international music contest at the age of 12 while competing against musicians twice his age. While both musicians have impressive performance histories, they are interestingly different in another way. Ms. Lin’s creativity branches into writing poetry which she sets to music, and her poetry/music presentations have been featured in multiple venues and on the radio. Mr. Newman developed an interest in composition at an early age, writing his first piece at the age of seven. Now a well-known composer of both solo cello and chamber music works, his pieces have premiered in New York and Philadelphia, and he has received commissions from many chamber groups. The collaboration of these two incredible talents will provide a virtuosic and exciting performance sure to please any classical music lover.
Friday, July 13, 7:30 p.m. – The Cats Pajamas
Imagine five high energy singers creating all the sounds of a band using only their voices, and you have The Cat’s Pajamas. In the years since their formation in 2005, when they joined together for the Oreo Cookie Competition, the group has performed for tens of thousands of people. After years of performing on Celebrity, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Oceania, and Disney cruise ships, The Cat’s Pajamas have performed over 200 shows per year at the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre and Music City Centre Theatre in Branson, Missouri. After playing in the City of Virginia Beach’s Beach Street USA Concert series, they were chosen to be a part of the PBS TV special “Doo Wop Generations” which aired nationwide this past March. Additionally, the group were selected to sing on Broadway as part of an a cappella competition at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre after an evening performance of the hit musical “Kinky Boots”. One of their most exciting events occurred in in the fall of 2011 when the group reached millions of new viewers when they sang on NBC’s hit show, “The Sing Off”. In addition to performing publicly, The Cat’s Pajamas have also been involved in education and giving back to the school systems that made them successful. This was the inspiration for their “Music in Schools” fundraising tour. All of the members work with school children by teaching breathing, singing techniques, confidence, vocal percussion, performance tips, and the joy of singing. To date, they have raised over $120,000 for music education programs across the country. The Cat’s Pajamas are sure to provide fun, outstanding entertainment for all ages in this year’s Festival of Fun!
Saturday, July 14, 7:30 p.m. – The Fella Sings Ella
Dubbed “The First Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums. Her voice was flexible, wide-ranging, accurate and ageless. She could sing sultry ballads, sweet jazz and imitate every instrument in an orchestra. Now the multi-award-winning vocalist, Scott Coulter, dedicates an entire evening to the Fitzgerald classics from the Great American Songbook and sheds light on the life story of the greatest female jazz singer of all time. Lauded for his soaring high notes, purity of tone, and way with a lyric, Scott Coulter is one of New York’s most honored vocalists and has been called “the male Ella Fitzgerald”. Scott regularly performs in concert, both as a solo artist and with a variety of legendary performers, including Stephen Schwartz, Tony-winner Ben Vereen, and Grammy-winner Sheena Easton. He has performed with symphonies all over the world. Schwartz has said, “One of the greatest things that can happen to a composer is to have his music interpreted by Scott Coulter. Hearing this talented singer perform in Turner Hall will be a rare treat.
Sunday, July 15, 1 p.m. – Extra Crispy Brass Band
Relaxing in beautiful Grant Park overlooking the town of Galena with a picnic lunch and a great brass band playing music – what could be more fun on a summer Sunday afternoon? The eight-piece Extra Crispy Brass Band (or ECBB) plays New Orleans-style brass band music inspired by the great contemporary bands and includes traditional tunes performed by famous musicians of the past. The band was formed by bandleader, vocalist, and trombonist Gregory Cramer because he missed New Orleans after moving north in 1999. Based in Milwaukee, ECBB plays at numerous venues, including Festivals and the State Fair, as well as doing educational shows at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and Milwaukee public schools.
To add to your enjoyment, picnic lunches for the Sunday concert in the park can be pre-ordered from Fried Green Tomatoes and picked up at Grant Park (or at Turner Hall in case of rain) prior to the performance. Information and order forms can be found HERE.
In addition, Fried Green Tomatoes will once again offer a prix-fixe ($30) menu prior to the evening concerts, with free transportation to the concert. (Reservations required, 815-777-3938). More information can be found HERE.
Another new event this year will be a Christmas Concert Sunday, December 9 at 2 p.m., also in Turner Hall (115 S. Bench St., http://www.turnerhall.com). This special concert, along with Galena’s traditional luminaria night the evening before, will be a charming way to usher in the winter holidays.
Part of the fun of the Galena Festival of the Performing Arts is sharing the joy of music with individuals of all ages. Each year new artwork is used on posters and other materials about the Festival – artwork which incorporates references to music and the arts as well as reflecting the unique character of Galena. Once again this year, the Festival art was selected from pictures created for that purpose by local art students. Here is the colorful new Festival posters, artwork by Galena High School student, Anna Hulscher.
All Festival performances are free to the public. Free will donations will be gratefully accepted as the generosity of the community allows the Festival to continue to provide high quality musical entertainment each year. GFPA is a non-profit organization managed by volunteers and dependent on sponsorship and donations. We would like to thank this year’s sponsors, including First Community Bank, Illinois Bank and Trust, and Marge and John Cooke.