Johnson City Symphony Orchestra rocks Winged Deer Park lawn

Tony Casey • Sep 9, 2013 at 11:10 AM

Looming rain clouds couldn’t keep the music from playing Sunday evening.

Wet weather held off as the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra kicked off its series of concerts with a Picnic in the Park performance on the lawn of Winged Deer Park on Boone Lake. The occasion was called “A Little Night Music.”

Maestro Dr. Robert Seebacher opened things up, conducting the orchestra through the national anthem. Throughout the night, Seebacher and his team played a series of pieces, including works from Schonberg, von Suppe, Hanssen and Sherman, then finishing with a rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

See video of the concert below.

Different from a typical musical hall performance, this show had people on blankets and folding chairs with barbecue and picnic food, dogs running about and dancing children and adults. Attendees of the free concert were also encouraged to sing along to some of the familiar songs.

Other interactive parts of the night included a dedication to the armed forces, where the orchestra would play a medley of military numbers and members of that branch would stand to the applause of the crowd.

The crowd, comprised of several hundred people, were complimented by Seebacher.

“Every year we continue to cover more of the lawn,” Seebacher said.

Of the members of the crowd on the lawn, one couple unexpectedly found themselves in a position perfectly complimentary to their evening plans.

“We kind of just stumbled upon this,” Justin Brown said of he and his date, Victoria Humphrey, on their two-month anniversary. “We were going on a date here at the park and found it.”

“I love classical music,” Humphrey said. “It’s really cool to see the orchestra playing live.”

The two are both digital media students at East Tennessee State University, and said they’re thinking about going to more JCSO concerts.

Gauging by the amount of dancing, some of the crowd favorites seemed to be the “Mary Poppins” and “Miss Saigon” pieces. The pieces got the children out in the space between the orchestra and the crowds, performing their own variety of interpretive dance.

Jim Fisher, of Jonesborough, said he and his family had been involved with music their whole lives, and it was special for him to bring his 92-year-old father-in-law out to the lawn concert.

“It’s a great service to have a free concert in such a beautiful setting,” Fisher said. “I’m pleased to see the size of the crowd, with threatening rain.”

There’s more of where Sunday night’s show came from, as there are concerts scheduled every month through April. More information about the series can be found at www.jcsymphony.com.

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