July 9, 2008

River City Brass Band to Play Riverfront Park on Sunday

By Mitch Fryer, The Leader-Times, Kittanning, Pa.

Jul. 9--KITTANNING -- The River City Brass Band is different than a lot of classical music groups.

These brass band musicians have fun on stage.

"Sure we're hoping musical culture comes through in our performances, but more important than that, we hope people have a good time and aren't scared off by culture and classical music," said Denis Colwell, River City Brass Band music director and conductor.

"Music is supposed to be fun," Colwell said. "We hope people walk out with their toes tapping and humming a tune."

The 28-piece brass and percussion ensemble from Pittsburgh will be presenting a variety of music from patriotic marches to Big Band swing; Duke Ellington to Irving Berlin; traditional to contemporary, when it entertains the public at the Murtha Amphitheater along the Allegheny River in Kittanning's Riverfront Park on Sunday as part of the Arts on the Allegheny group's free summer outdoor concert series.

Ford City native and music composer Drew Fennell, a conductor and flugelhorn player with River City Brass Band, will be a major part of the concert. Fennell will be performing his own composition, "Arlington Anthem" honoring the soldiers buried at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

"He's a fantastic musician and being a favorite son from nearby makes sense to feature him," Colwell said.

Arts on the Allegheny is a nonprofit community group which is working to advance arts, entertainment and culture in Armstrong County and the surrounding area. The group has scheduled three free-to-the public concerts for the summer using the riverfront amphitheater as the venue.

The Irish band Gaelic Storm successfully kicked off the concert in the park season in June. River City Brass Band is the second of the scheduled performers. In August, rockers The Clarks will round out the musical series.

Armstrong County's Arts on the Allegheny promoters said they planned a cross-section of types of music for its inaugural season.

"We're trying to bring in different things," said Arts on the Allegheny chairwoman, Mary Ann Valasek. "This and the other concerts support our mission of something for everyone."

Valasek said the Gaelic Storm concert drew a large audience and people came from as far as Erie and Ohio to see it.

"I received so many calls, cards and e-mails saying how impressed they were," Valasek said. "People came not knowing anything about the performers and ended up becoming fans. Concerts like these appeal to a wide variety of people, of all ages."

Mulberry Street Creamery, Mel's Pizzeria, Bonello's, Garda's and Kittanning Hose Company 1 will provide food and drink.

"Come have dinner, dessert and enjoy a concert," Valasek said.

Arts on the Allegheny needs additional financial support to continue providing the free concerts. Major sponsors are Rosebud Mining and Snyder Charitable Foundation. Valasek said ACMH Hospital and the ACMH Hospital Foundation recently have become sponsors.

Valasek said she believes cultural offerings such as the concerts held in the heart of the county against the backdrop of the river help create a positive image of the county and its residents.

Colwell sees a connection between River City Brass Band and performing along the Allegheny River.

"There's a beautiful sort of imagery in that," Colwell said.

What: Arts on the Allegheny summer concert series

Who: River City Brass Band

When: 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: John P. Murtha Amphitheater in Kittanning's Riverfront Park

Cost: Free

More information: www.artsontheallegheny.org.

Mitch Fryer can be reached at [email protected] or 724-543-1303, ext. 242.


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