The Warren Philharmonic Orchestra Golden Anniversary Committee will celebrate the Orchestra’s first 50 years of providing classical music to the Warren area with a series of events to be held the weekend of June 17-19. All events are free and open to the public. “We have been meeting for over a year to plan this celebration,” said Gina Bodor, anniversary committee chairwoman. “The area has supported the orchestra for a half century, and we want to provide a wealth of experiences for everyone to enjoy.”
The celebration kicks off on Friday, June 17, with a free event at the Warren Community Amphitheatre. Ensemble Orchestra musicians will perform at 7:30 p.m., followed by a film screening of “August Rush” in partnership with the Robins Project and the Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County (FACT). “August Rush” tells the story of an orphaned musical prodigy who uses his gift as a clue to finding his birth parents. The film includes Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers and is rated PG. Friday evening concludes with a fireworks display at about 10:30 p.m.
Saturday afternoon celebrates local arts and history with a Music and Art Hop from 3 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, in partnership with Trumbull Art Gallery (TAG) and FACT. Hop venues include TAG, FACT, DNA Studios, Kinsman House, Upton House, John Stark Edwards House, and the Union Savings and Trust Building (Chase Tower). The Warren Trolley will provide shuttle service among the venues.
The Orchestra will host a 3 p.m. reception at the Trumbull Art Gallery, 158-162 North Park Ave., in downtown Warren, one of the trolley stops. Winning entries from the Orchestra’s 2015 Art in Music Contest will be on display at TAG; Trumbull County students in grades 3 through 8 created visual art about the Orchestra’s instruments and the music it performed at the 2015 student concerts. SMARTS (Students Motivated by the Arts) is sponsoring Hands-on Art for Children of All Ages in Courthouse Park from 3-6 p.m., with free artist materials supplied by SMARTS. A variety of live music will be performed in the Courthouse Park Gazebo from 3-6 p.m.
The anniversary celebration will conclude with a pops concert by the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 19, at the historic First Presbyterian Church, 256 Mahoning Ave., NW, in downtown Warren. The Joe Augustine Trio and baritone Brian Keith Johnson will perform, as well. Warren native Augustine has been a Steinway Artist since 1994 and performs extensively with his trio and as a solo pianist. Johnson, son of local educator Lillie Johnson and the late Cliff Johnson, has performed diverse roles with Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Youngstown and other orchestras. No tickets are required for this general admission event.
“I urge all Valley residents to join the Warren Philharmonic family to help us celebrate our half-century achievement,” Bodor said. “The Orchestra and its related programs can only exist with the support of our community. This celebration is recognition of our supporters, our past success and our commitment to the next 50 years.”
The Warren Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1965 with the leadership of John W. Kurtz, a Warren attorney and founder and director of the Warren Civic Chorus. As a nonprofit organization, its mission is to provide cultural experiences throughout the Mahoning Valley. The primary goal is to bring classical, Romantic and modern music concerts that enrich the lives of all citizens. John Blackwell was the Orchestra’s first conductor. Dr. George Zach became the music director and conductor in 1968, when the name was changed to the Warren Chamber Orchestra. In 1999-2000 the Warren Chamber Orchestra became a full-sized orchestra and was renamed the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra to reflect that change. Renowned conductor Susan Davenny Wyner was named music director and conductor and currently serves in that role.
Now concluding its 50th season, the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra is comprised of the area’s finest professional musicians. In addition to two concerts for the public, the orchestra performs free school concerts for thousands of area school children. An “Art in Music” contest is held yearly for Trumbull County students. Its Strings of Joy program provides free violin lessons for selected third through eighth grade Trumbull County students. These students use donated violins, and the free instruction is provided by the Trumbull 100 and several individual donors.
For more information on the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra, visit http://www.warrenphilharmonic.org.