ArtsFest will have patriotic finish

By on May 17, 2017

Three years ago the Lancaster Symphony made its premier appearance in Lititz.

This weekend, they will be making an encore when the Lancaster Symphony performs for the very first time at the Lititz Springs Park bandshell.

It’s all a part of the Lititz ArtsFest on May 27, a day of music, arts, and food in the park leading up to the 200th Lititz Fourth of July celebration in July.

“We performed at the Warwick High School performing arts center and it was a wonderful venue. The acoustics were magnificent,” says Maestro Stephen Gunzenhauser. “We felt so welcomed by the Lititz community that we were pleased to return. This time we will outdoors at the park.”

While most people think of the prestigious Lancaster Symphony performing at the elegant Fulton Theatre or other indoor theatres, it is not all that unusual for the symphony to perform outside. They used to do it all the time.

“For many years we did concerts at Long’s Park. It was always a wonderful evening beneath the stars,” says the Maestro.

It will be like that at Lititz Springs Park, complete with “Stars and Stripes.”

Since it is Memorial Day weekend, Gunzenhauser has planned a concert with a mostly patriotic theme. Music will include the “Stars and Stripes Forever” march by John Philip Sousa, along with a moving rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” by Lititz’ own Mary Ann Garrett. John Williams’ “Liberty Fanfare” and Gershwin’s “Strike Up the Band” will celebrate our nation’s birthday. For something more spirited, the park will humming with rousing New Orleans songs and “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

“We wanted to really liven things up,” said Gunzenhauser, noting that former Lancaster Mayor Charlie Smithgall was going to set off his thunderous cannons to the tune of the Tchaikovsky’s powerful “1812 Overture.”

Since Lititz is a residential neighborhood, there were concerns about rattling china cupboards and frightening folks. Instead, Smithgall will be setting off quieter mortars that will accent the famous battle song.

“They’re like little cannons,” says Gunzenhauser with a smile.

For those who love movies and theatre, the concert will feature favorite like Williams’ theme from “Jurassic Park” and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Evita.”

“We are so pleased that the Lancaster Symphony will be back in Lititz. We loved the concert at the high school and it will be wonderful to have them at Lititz Springs Park,” says Gaylord Poling, who is helping to sponsor the concert through the Tiger’s Eye shop that he and his wife Nadine own, along with Ephrata National Bank, the Brossman Foundation, the Irene Weidman Charitable Trust and Versatek.

Now in its 70th season, the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra has evolved from a community orchestra playing a few concerts a year to an organization of 70 professional musicians presenting six Classic Series concerts, the Sounds of the Season holiday concert series, and New Year’s Eve Celebration concert.

The Lancaster Symphony will perform around 8:10 p.m., and will be joined by the Lititz Community Chorus singing “Stars and Stripes Forever.” The Lititz Community Band will also perform earlier, lending a special hometown flavor to the festivities. Heidi Limbert is the artistic director for the Lititz Community Band and the Lititz Community Chorus, made up of some 65 musicians and 50 singers. They range in age from high school or even younger, to 80 years or older.

“Mayor Russell Pettyjohn got things started back in 1976 with the Bicentennial Celebration in the park,” recalls Limbert, who has been directing since 2000.

Back in 2007 Ron Reedy had them perform for the 250th Lititz Birthday celebration and before he passed away in November, he had asked them to perform for the 200th ArtsFest event.

“We are honored to be here at Ron Reedy’s invitation,” says Limbert, who has been rehearsing with her talented musicians with a line-up that includes the Marine Corps famous “Semper Fidelis” by Sousa and a festive “Call to Freedom” medley. They will be performing at the park gazebo at 6:40 p.m.

Red Rose City Chorus, an all-female acapella ensemble that practices weekly in Lititz, will be performing a set that includes Broadway, pop, and patriotic selections, shortly before the symphony concert, on risers in front of the bandshell.

Of course, it’s not called ArtsFest for nothing. As ArtsFest coordinator Bill Dussinger points out, ArtsFest won’t be like the Lititz Outdoor Art Show or the Lititz Craft Show. It’s something entirely new and different for Lititz, highlighting the talents of makers who craft everything from handmade pottery to wildlife art.

“The ArtsFest part of the event is more of a MakersFest or DoersFest,” says artist and designer Dussinger. “We have a number of artists coming to demonstrate their work. The main focus will be the making and demonstrating of their art, and people are encouraged to watch how the artwork is created and ask questions.”

A few of the artists and makers set to demonstrate are wildlife painter Steven Leed, jewelry artist Gretchen Smith, painter Paul Griffin, ceramics artist Nate Nixdorf, potter Elena White, wood and slate artist Pam Givler, and painter and illustrator Crystal Dull. The artists will be demonstrating from 12:45 to 4:30 p.m.

“We also have special handmade one-of-a-kind swans for sale, made by Carl Martin,” says Dussinger, noting that the limited number editions will be collectibles marking the 200th Fourth of July.

There will also be lots of food, with a variety of food wagons in the park. The KidsZone play area will offer a variety of games and activities for the youngest park-goers, including choreographed dance, junk drumming, interactive drama, 3-D sculpture painting, nature art, large scale string art, photo art walk, and paper marbling.

Then, to cap off the whole evening, the grand finale to the ArtsFest will be a 20-minute pyromusical produced by Celebration Fireworks, following the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra.

“The music for the fireworks will be a mix of high-energy modern music along with a Memorial Day tribute to those who have served in the military,” says Tim Reedy, who is coordinating the ArtsFest. “This show will encompass a full range of emotion.”

Tickets for ArtsFest will be available at the gate, for $7 for adults, $5 for ages 11 to 18, $3 for ages 2 to 10. Admission plus concert priority seating tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for those age 11 to 18, and $3 for ages 2 to 10.

In the event of rain, the Lancaster Symphony will perform at the Warwick Performing Arts Center.

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the pages of the Record Express. She welcomes feedback and story tips at

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