There’s something unique about hearing music and seeing art surrounded by lush greenery. Musicians have been entertaining audiences and artists have painted outdoors since the ancient times. The appeal is still very much alive– especially in the Northwest, where our summer is so short and sweet.
On Thursday, the first of two Second City Chamber Series concerts at Lakewold Gardens begins a season’s worth of music and art shows of all kinds in local gardens, parks and outdoor courtyards.
“People all over the world know it’s a good way to spend an evening,” said Second City director Svend Ronning, who also will play violin in the second of the group’s two Lakewold concerts. “It’s one package of nice weather, beautiful architecture, beautiful music and a bucolic setting. It all adds up to a great experience.”
And it’s not the only such experience in the greater Tacoma area. The Weyerhaeuser Bonsai Collection has been rotating art exhibits and outdoor sculpture, while Lakewold itself plays host this weekend to the Rainier League of Arts’ annual mixed media show, with live jazz Saturday night. Throughout the year, you can hear anything from chamber to folk music on second Sunday afternoons at the Seymour Conservatory, which – like Lakewold’s music room – has the advantage of being inside in case the weather’s not quite perfect. Then there are the summer concert series in parks from Gig Harbor to Sumner to Puyallup, featuring local bands. You can hear jazz under the stars at Pacific Lutheran University’s outdoor amphitheater, or combine music and art at Wright Park at the annual August festival.
There’s something special about the Lakewold concerts, now in their 12th year.
For starters, you get free admission to the gardens with your ticket, and the gates open an hour before the music starts to allow you time to walk around the 10 acres of landscape designed by Thomas Church.
There’s a paved patio under a spreading, flowering arbor that’s perfect for a picnic dinner and bottle of wine with your friends.
The concerts are in the intimate acoustics of the historic, Georgian-style Wagner house, but you can also hear the music from the patio. And there’s plenty of time during intermission to stroll around the formal walkways, tranquil pools, forested paths and herb garden.
The music also is special. Each year, Ronning tries “to program appropriately for the bucolic setting.” Last year’s programs referenced two other great historic garden concert venues: Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Va, and the Austrian palace of the Esterhzy family, where Joseph Haydn composed. This year, the program takes inspiration from the performers involved.
Thursday’s show features Seattle’s Onyx Chamber Players, a piano trio that interprets classics in fresh ways. Tacoma audiences will recognize violinist James Garlick, former concertmaster of the Northwest Sinfonietta. Garlick and company will play Haydn’s “Gypsy” trio (the not-so-famous one, in C major), Beethoven’s “Kakadu Variations” and a Brahms quartet with violist Mel Butler.
For the July 18 concert, Lakewold gets a taste of Italy, as mezzo-soprano Jordan McLellan and tenor Matthew Richardson combine with Ronning on violin and Jane Harty on piano to sing Italy’s greatest hits – opera aria, folk songs and more by Monteverdi, Rossini, Puccini, Paganini and Mozart.
But don’t worry, it’s not all opera.
“There’s definitely some silly kitsch in there,” Ronning said.
After another garden event, the annual fundraiser at the Edgewood Garden in August, Second City’s 37th season continues with Spotlight concerts featuring music of the late series co-founder William Doppmann and eclectic Masterpiece concerts.
“It’s a season of having people I know get up and do things they’re really good at,” Ronning says.
Arts in the outdoors
What: Second City Chamber Series Concerts at the Gardens
Who: Onyx Chamber Players “The Classics”; Jordan McLellan and Matthew Richardson sing “Bella Italia”
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 p.m. July 18 (gardens open at 6:30 p.m.)
Where: Lakewold Gardens, 12317 Gravelly Lake Drive SW, Lakewood
Also: Annual garden party fundraiser 3 p.m. Aug. 11 at Edgewood Garden
Tickets: $27 general/$25 senior, military/$10 student/free for 18 and under
MORE MUSIC AND ART IN GARDENS AND PARKS
Looking for fine art or music out of doors? Here’s a South Sound selection to choose from.
Rainier League of Arts mixed media show
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. through Sunday, reception 1:30-3 p.m. Saturday with live jazz
Where: Lakewold Gardens, 12317 Gravelly Lake Drive SW, Lakewood
Admission: $9 adults/$6 senior, student, military/free for 12 and under
What: The Art of Bamboo – Japanese baskets and “The Art of Ink” sumi painting
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-July 17 (more exhibitions through October)
Where: Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection, 33663 Weyerhaeuser Way S., Federal Way
Information: 253-924-5206, Weyerhaeuser.com/company/bonsai
Second Sunday Music Series
When: 1 p.m. second Sunday of each month (July 14, Aug. 11)
Where: Seymour Conservatory, Wright Park, 316 N. G St., Tacoma
Admission: Free/$3 during Grand Floral Exhibits in July
Information: 253-591-5330, metroparkstacoma.org/conservatory
Music and Art in Wright Park
What: Live art, live music and vendors
When: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Aug. 10
Where: Wright Park, Division Avenue and South I Street, Tacoma
Summer Sounds at Skansie
When: 6:30 p.m. June 25; July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; Aug. 6, 13, 20
Who: Performers (in order of date) are The Gothard Sisters, Blue Rocket Music, The New Blues Brothers, 133rd Army National Guard Band, The Beatniks, Steve Stefanowitz, Bump Kitchen, Rye and Barley, Kim Archer Band
And also: Restaurant delivery to park by Netshed No. 9, Morso, Kelly’s Café and Tides Tavern
Where: Skansie Brothers Park, 3211 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor (rain or shine)
Information: 253-853-3554, gigharborguide.com
Music Off Main in Sumner
When: 6:30 p.m. June 28 (Rainier View Park), July 5, 12, 19, 26; Aug. 2 (Heritage Park)
Who: Performers are (in order of date) the Puyallup Valley Community Band, Andy Shofner Band, Great Pretenders, Funaddicts, The Coats, Hot Club Sandwich
Where: Rainier View Park, 15603 Mead McCumber Rd E, Sumner; Heritage Park, Cherry and Main Streets, Sumner
Jazz Under the Stars
When: 7-9 p.m. July 11, 18, 25; Aug. 1, 8, 15
Where: Outdoor amphitheater near Mary Baker Russell music building, Pacific Lutheran University, 12180 Park Ave. S, Tacoma
Information: plu.edu/calendarRosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/arts