The sun shone bright for the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra’s 31st Concert on the Lawn Saturday night at Kentucky Wesleyan College. As attendees entered this free concert, the smell of barbeque and the full-size U.S. Bank hot air balloon let concertgoers know that this would be a special night of All-American music.
“This is the one time of the year that the Owensboro Symphony can share our music with the whole community. Not all attendees are subscribers. We find that there are many families with young children that take advantage of the relaxed setting. The hot air balloon is a trademark of U.S. Bank and we are fortunate they bring it out to our event every year. It is a definite crowd pleaser.” said Gwyn Payne, General Manager of the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra.
Face painting and childrens’ games began at 5:30 p.m., and were staffed by U.S. Bank volunteers. As concertgoers found their spots, volunteers handed out glow necklaces and bracelets, fans, programs and bags for children to decorate. Later, the same volunteers released lanterns that glowed with an American flag into the night sky. The lanterns have become a Concert on the Lawn tradition as well, said Sara Jackson, Owensboro Symphony Orchestra’s Director of Marketing.
Many of the picnickers gathered around tables offering the delicacies they brought to enjoy before and during the concert. Children ran and played in the back of the lawn, passing footballs and frisbees. Superman even made an appearance to the delight of the children. The laid-back feeling of this symphony is one reason over 2,000 people chose to attend this year and for many, this isn’t their first Concert on the Lawn.
Kate Burton, a member of the Patron’s Society for the OSO, said, “The Concert on the Lawn is one of our favorite family traditions. My husband, Rusty, and I love attending with our family and friends. We have attended as newlyweds, pulled a red wagon with our toddlers in it — always with my parents and even extended family. Now, as our children continue to grow, family and friends abundant, we once again looked forward to a magical evening.”
A few years ago, the concert organizers decided to offer food at the event for those that may not want to bring their meal. Moonlite catered the event and this year and many people chose the buffet.
The idea of selling tables came about as a way to help symphony patrons and members of the community enjoy the concert but not have to carry lawn chairs and picnics out onto the lawn. More tables were reserved this year than in previous years with many entering the table decorating contest to win two OSO Holiday Pops tickets.
As the music began, the crowd quieted and stood for “The Star Spangled Banner.” The sounds of the children playing in the back were unnoticed because of the upbeat and patriotic music. As maestro Troy Quinn spoke about the song selections, many nodded in appreciation of the selections. When asked about the theme and song choices, Troy said there is too much divisiveness and we need to come together – and patriotic songs bring out the best in people. “It is timely and we need to celebrate our similarities versus our differences,” he added.
He also mentioned that some of the folk song choices, such as “My Old Kentucky Home” and “Oh Susanna” are the fabric of life and come from this region, so they fit into the program well.
Maestro Quinn enjoys this type of concert because it is an opportunity for him to have a good time. “There is no pressure – especially in good weather,” he said smiling. “We have a beautiful microphone and sound system for the outdoor concert. It is like being at a rock concert. The stringed instruments are individually mic’d.”
After the concert, Quinn added, “It was darn good fun.”