By: Christopher Davis | Category: Recreation/Leisure | Issue: July 2013
Dale Barnett conducts the Starlight Concert Band at River West Festival Amphitheater.
Every summer, the Starlight Concert Series brings quality, live music to diverse audiences in Tulsa. 2013 marks their 67th season of music and on Tuesday evenings at the River West Festival Amphitheater the Starlight Band offers something for everyone, no matter your taste.
The Starlight Concert Series features two configurations of bands. The Starlight Concert Band, which performs the majority of the shows, is the larger of the two, comprised of over 45 musicians playing brass, woodwind and percussion instruments. The Starlight Jazz Orchestra is a smaller version of the Concert Band (about 20 members) and features drums, bass, guitar and piano in addition to the brass, woodwinds and percussion sections.
The Starlight Band features some of the best players in town. It is common for Starlight musicians to perform in some of the other local orchestras, including the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, Signature Symphony and Bartlesville Symphony. The musical direction for both Starlight Bands is impressive and steeped in the Tulsa community. Dale Barnett, the Conductor and Musical Director for the Starlight Concert Band, has performed with the Starlight Band since 1971. He serves as the Director of Bands for Holland Hall and has played trombone in the Tulsa area for more than 30 years, 15 of which has found him with the Tulsa Philharmonic. Rich Fisher - local celebrity to any avid NPR/KWGS listener - serves as Director for the Starlight Jazz Orchestra, and plays trombone, as well, with the Tulsa Philharmonic.
Wendy Reed, Executive Director for Starlight Concerts, explains that her organization works hard to ensure Tulsa has opportunities to attend live concerts in a family-friendly setting. The best thing, she boasts, is that every Starlight Concert is free to the public. The Starlight Band relies on sponsors and donations in order to produce a series that remains free and upholds the highest standards of musicianship. “The Starlight Band is one of only a handful of professional concert bands in the United States,” Ms. Reed points out. “Tulsa is probably the smallest town in the U.S. with a professional concert band. This is, really, a unique opportunity for Tulsans.”
Ms. Reed explains that, every season, the Starlight Concert series strives to present a broad spectrum of music for their audience, “Material ranges from well-known patriotic tunes to jazz, to light classics and even some pop.”
This season is no disappointment. The Starlight Jazz Orchestra will kick off the series with a showcase of the greatest hits of the Big Band Era. Throughout July, the Starlight Concert Band will feature music that dwells on a different theme each week. Ms. Reed notes that, among her favorites this year is the July 9th concert, “A Year of Music.” In this, the Concert Band will perform selections of music that relate to the different months of the year. Another favorite in July is the return of “A Night at the Movies,” in which the Concert Band will perform, afterwards, a projected silent movie is screened accompanied by live theater organ music. “This year’s selection,” Ms. Reed says, “is the Buster Keaton film One Week.” Reed’s enthusiasm for this production is contagious. Where else can you bring the family or a date and – for free – attend a professional concert production in your own neighborhood? Throughout July, you can attend the Starlight Concert Series at the River West Festival Amphitheater. Show dates are July 9, 16, and 23. All concerts begin at 8p.m. You can find more information, including directions, times and dates of each concert online at www.starlightbands.net.
Christopher Davis is an educator and musician, as well as a writer. A California native, he resides in Tulsa with his wife, two sons and a modest menagerie of pets. When he isn't inspiring young minds, you will most likely find him spending time with his family or playing drums and percussion with Project Huckleberry or the Movetet. In addition to Value News, Davis also writes for Currentland. You can view his work at https://seedavis.wordpress.com.