Arts & Culture

Olympia Symphony throws an arts party on the Capitol lawn

The Olympia Symphony plays in 2015 on the Capitol grounds in Olympia.
The Olympia Symphony plays in 2015 on the Capitol grounds in Olympia. Courtesy

What do you do for a 10th birthday party? If you’re the Olympia Symphony Orchestra, celebrating your 10th annual concert on the Capitol lawn, you invite all of your art friends and have a free festival. The Festival on the Capitol Green on Sunday brings together the symphony, plus local dance, instrumental and choral groups, food trucks and games for an afternoon and evening of family-friendly arts fun.

“We wanted a bit more of a splash this year,” says Huw Edwards, music director of the Olympia Symphony. “Last year we were putting up the tent on the Saturday night and I thought, ‘If we could bring the sound system in early it would be nice to offer other groups the opportunity to play on the Capitol lawn, too.’ ”

Edwards was originally inspired to create the Capitol concerts after experiencing one in Madison, Wisconsin, with tents, picnickers and classical music. Past years have seen 2,000 to 5,000 people in attendance, Edwards says, in everything from 67-degree drizzle to a sweltering 98 degrees.

This year will be even bigger, with food trucks, games and prizes for kids and a host of cultural groups: Samba OlyWA (1 p.m.), the Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia (1:40 p.m.), Japanese American Citizen League Dancers (2:35 p.m.), Ballet Northwest (3:10 p.m.), Oly Flamenco (3:50 p.m.), Pinniped (4:25 p.m.), Olympia Youth Chorus (5:50 p.m.), and Olympia Highlanders Pipes and Drums (5:50 p.m.).

At 6:15 p.m. the symphony will play a variety of short, popular classical pieces such as Wagner’s Prelude to “Lohengrin” Act I, the waltz from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” the finale from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastorale” and the usual Armed Forces Salute, combining all five armed forces’ tunes in a medley to honor the military.

To mix things up, they’ll play a Beatles medley, which includes the tune “When I’m 64.”

“We’re about to start our 64th season,” says Edwards. “And we hope people will still need us when we’re 64!”

Above all, it’s a chance for Olympia folks to enjoy beautiful music and dance in a beautiful outdoor setting.

“We have a tent and the Capitol Dome behind us,” Edwards says. “We’re in a unique position here, being the orchestra of the capitol.”

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568, @rose_ponnekanti

Festival on the Capitol Green

Who: Olympia Symphony and other music and dance groups.

When: 1-8 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Washington State Capitol Campus, 416 Sid Snyder Ave. SW, Olympia.

Information: 360-753-0074,