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A Summer Symphony

Fairfax City Band gears up for summer concert series at Veterans Amphitheater.

More than 100 band members are setting the stage for the Fairfax Summer Concert Series, where their big-band sounds and hopes for good weather will begin June 8.

“It’s a great way to spend a summer evening,” said Joanna Ormesher, cultural arts coordinator for the City of Fairfax. “It’s an opportunity for everyone to get out and meet their neighbors in the park.”

The first concert of the summer series is Thursday, June 8, on the lawn of Veterans Amphitheater at City Hall. The opening show will feature most of the 120 members of the City of Fairfax Band. The band will play as a group for four of the eight summer shows at the amphitheater, and many members of the band’s association will also play in a smaller ensemble performances the other four shows, said Lisa Paradis, spokeswoman for the band. Each ensemble offers a different sound and atmosphere, and they play many different styles of music at the each performance. Paradis said the city band has enjoyed playing this summer series since the series began, more then 35 years ago.

The Potomac Brass Quintet is the first small ensemble to play the summer series on June 15. The ensemble's sounds showcase popular jazz, rags, marches, classical sounds and Broadway show selections. The next ensemble to play is the Blaskapelle Alte Kameraden German Band, "The Old Comrades." Their sound showcases the spirit of Bavarian village bands, and they are one of the city band's first ensembles, formed in 1977.

The band's Kapellmeister, a German word for the person in charge of music-making, Sam Laudenslager said the summer lawn concerts are fun and offer a “Wolftrappy-type atmosphere.” Since the city won’t be finished with road construction and traffic delays, he said guests should arrive early to find parking and good lawn seats.

The Fairfax Swing Band, playing the July 6 show, will take guests back to the 1940s with their lively swing sound. The band has five saxophones, three trombones, four trumpets, a three-piece rhythm section and a vocalist. The Just Jazz Septet, the final ensemble to play the summer series, has a wide range a jazz sounds at each of their shows. The band plays early ragtime jazz, Dixieland jazz, swing, bebop and the California “cool school,” but clarinet player Bill Warnell said the ensemble plays more popular music at its summer shows.

“It’s that lazy summer atmosphere,” said Warnell. “It’s a nice feeling to play the summer concerts, except you never know about the weather until the last minute.”

Warnell said one of his favorite summer performances is the Children’s Concert, which will be July 13. The venue caters to children at this show, offering ice cream and other kid-friendly items, while the city band plays together with a lighter fare of sounds.

“It’s festive and fun and there are children running around all over the place,” said Warnell.