Concert in the Park tradition continues

The Portage Area Chamber of Commerce looks forward to continuing a wonderful tradition in Portage by welcoming everyone to the 23rd Annual Concert in the Park featuring the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra at Pauquette Park on Friday, July 3. We encourage listeners to bring along a comfortable lawn chair, blanket and a picnic dinner to relax and enjoy the fireworks display and musical performances by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the 132nd Army Badger Brass Ensemble and native Madison Malone.

Oftentimes during the run of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s performances in Portage, our city was the only community the orchestra performed at outside Madison. For an orchestra venturing away from its home environment, what better outdoor setting exists for music than picturesque Pauquette Park and its Bridal Pond.

This park is certainly a great example of Portage PRIDE. Our local Kiwanis members have done a tremendous amount of work “taking care” of the Pauquette Park flower bed areas for many years. The water rises once again this year from the fountain at the park, thanks to the Parks & Recreation crew. The volunteers of Portage PRIDE recently did some painting and added more flowers near the Bridal Arch. We all should be so proud that we have such a wonderful park for us to use and to showcase to our visitors, but also that we have such great people who take pride in their community.

Each sound emanating from the orchestra, arranged on a level concrete perch on the south bank of Bridal Pond, with a screen of lush green foliage behind, rings so rich and vibrant across the pond and beyond. For those who were wondering, a chamber orchestra is smaller than a symphony orchestra, so each individual chamber musician’s sound stands out more than a symphony musician’s. According to the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, “…the challenge and opportunity of a chamber orchestra is to fill each seat with a musician of soloist quality. Each player’s attention to detail, clarity of line, and personal energy is evident. The overall effect for listeners is a sound that is clean, fresh, intimate, and compelling.”

Accompanying the orchestra musicians this year are soprano Amanda Huddleston, along with her husband tenor Andrew Clark. Some of you may remember Amanda from a few years back as our featured guest performer. Recently she was in Shanghi, China staring as Cosette in the premiere of Les Miserables and also played Christine Daae’ in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. Her husband Andrew has had various performances with the Cincinnati Pops and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras, along with a theatrical world premiere of Dracula: the Game of Love (Dracula).

In addition to the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, we are pleased to welcome the 132nd Army Badger Brass Ensemble to Pauquette Park as the opening act at 5:30 p.m. The National Guard’s 132nd Army Band keeps alive the tradition of supporting and entertaining service members and civilians with music. Among other numerous notable performances, the band inaugurates Wisconsin governors, has played honors for the President of the United States, helped commission the battleship USS Wisconsin, commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the Wisconsin Guard’s World War II service in Australia, and welcomed home each of the Wisconsin Guard’s Desert Storm units.

Wrapping up the musical performances of the evening is local musician Madison Malone, who takes the stage at 9 p.m. to sing some of her original works along with popular tunes. A recent graduate of Portage High School, current University of Wisconsin-Madison student, and return performer at our Concert in the Park, Malone recently released her first full-length album, “Liminal.”

A spectacular fireworks display over the Wisconsin River to celebrate the Fourth of July caps off a terrific evening at 9:30 p.m. In 2010, the Portage Chamber moved the date of the Concert in the Park closer to Independence Day and sought a firework production company to set up the display. Now people come from all over to view the display along perfect sightlines from Pauquette Park, along the west end of Conant Street, the Wisconsin River Levee Walk, Sunset Park and the Wisconsin River Highway 33 bridge.

Although the event is free to the public, the event is not free to arrange. It has been through the great generosity of the City of Portage Tourism, local businesses, community leaders and residents through the years that Portage has been able to continually host this event. The Chamber is still seeking donations totaling $2000 to cover the cost of the event. Donations can be mailed to 104 West Cook Street, Portage, WI 53901, dropped off at our office or we will also be collecting donations at the park during the orchestra intermission. You can also support the event by purchasing a treat of Culver’s custard, with all proceeds going toward the cost of the event.

We hope that you will be able to attend this unique event that Portage has so graciously supported for the last 23 years. We look forward to seeing you on Friday night July 3rd at Pauquette Park.

Brad Conrad
graphics@portagewi.com
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