By Brian Jewell
Sometimes music sounds better beneath a starry sky.
No disrespect to all of the concert halls around the country, but the great outdoors can make one of the best settings to hear great music. When temperatures are warm and skies are clear, nature serves as the perfect complement to beautiful sounds.
Musical organizations around the country have caught on to the magic of performing outdoors and now put on special concert series in plein air venues. These summertime events are popular gatherings for locals but also provide opportunities for visiting groups to enjoy the fine arts and fine climate a destination has to offer.
For an outside-the-box musical experience for your group, consider visiting one of the following outdoor concert venues during your travels this year.
Symphony on the Prairie
This summer will mark the 32nd year of Symphony on the Prairie. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra presents this series at Connor Prairie, the Indianapolis area’s excellent living-history site. The concerts take place weekends from mid-June through Labor Day and feature a mix of classical and contemporary music.
“We use the outdoor venue to showcase the finest music that we can,” said Jessica Di Santo, the orchestra’s director of communications. “It can be symphonic pops, country, jazz, blues or Motown. We often have a band called Classical Mystery Tour that were the original members of the ‘Beatlemania’ show.”
The symphony typically performs on Friday and Saturday evenings in June and July; it also performs a three- or four-day patriotic concert program that features fireworks over the Independence Day weekend. During August, when the symphony goes on vacation, the series features nationally known pop performers such as Lee Ann Womack, Diamond Rio, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy or the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
The symphony offers a number of great packages for groups, some of which include a catered al fresco dinner. Whatever options they choose, groups are sure to enjoy the ambiance that comes along with the music.
“It’s one of the most picturesque places in the area,” Di Santo said. “It’s a huge bowl, with a canopy covering the orchestra. Beyond that, in a beautiful landscape that isn’t developed at all. There’s nothing getting in the way of your sight line.”
— www.indianapolissymphony.org —
Delta Classic Chastain Series
The amphitheater at Chastain Park is home to one of Atlanta’s favorite summer social events: the Delta Classic Chastain concert series.
“It’s kind of tucked away in a neighborhood, and it’s an Atlanta tradition,” said Keri Musgraves, promotional manager of ASO Presents, a division of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. “People buy tables here and then pass them down through the generations. It has a dinner club vibe; there are candles everywhere, and people are sharing food across the tables. It’s kind of an outdoor dinner party.”
The concert series takes place on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the summer and features a variety of music. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra presents a number of classical and pops concerts, as well as a number of “Music of …” concerts that feature the works of popular modern composers such as John Williams. The series also includes pop music concerts; past artists have included Colbie Caillat, Gavin DeGraw, Gladys Knight and Diana Ross.
Guests are free to bring their own food, drinks and decorations to the show, and the park makes accommodations for visiting groups that would like to share the experience.
“Groups can have hors d’oeuvres, drinks or cocktail receptions at Club Chastain,” Musgraves said. “We also have two onsite caterers, and you can order food through them prior to the concert. They’ll even set and decorate your table for you.”
— www.classicchastain.com —