by Chet Hardin
If you're into outdoor music, we just got some good news:
A series of free symphonic concerts will return to Colorado Springs’ parks and open spaces, thanks to a $50,000 gift from the Charles Ansbacher Foundation to the Bee Vradenburg Foundation.
The grant from the Charles Ansbacher Foundation, along with additional funding from the Bee Vradenburg Foundation, will support Free For All Summer Symphony: A Celebration of Charles Ansbacher and Bee Vradenburg, a free outdoor concert in the community each year for the next three years.
Ansbacher died in September 2010 at age 67 of a brain tumor at his home in Cambridge, Mass. During his tenure in the 1970s and 1980s as music director and conductor of the Colorado Springs Symphony Orchestra, the predecessor to today’s Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the orchestra grew tremendously in scope, size and community outreach. Together, Ansbacher and Bee Vradenburg, the symphony’s general manager, conceived the summer orchestral performances in parks throughout the region, including the Fabulous Fourth concerts in Memorial Park. The free concerts reached tens of thousands of community residents.
“Charles’ life mission of bringing free orchestral music to diverse audiences began in Colorado Springs, and he adored Bee like a mother. I know the two of them will be dancing a jig the days of these concerts!," said Swanee Hunt, Charles’ widow.
“Charles and Bee were the ultimate team: Devoted friends and passionate visionaries who loved this city and believed in the power of music to build community,” said Phil Kendall, president of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation and a longtime friend of Charles. “These concerts celebrate their enduring friendship.”
For 2011, the Free for All Summer Symphony concert will be performed by the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs in late summer. The Chamber Orchestra will be joined by singers of the local chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America, and the performance will take place in Monument Valley Park in the area below the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Organization of the concert is supported by the Fine Arts Center and is part of an FAC summer series that will include events in the FAC courtyard and a second concert in Monument Valley Park.
For 2012, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic will perform in the same area of the park, at a date yet to be determined. Performers and dates for 2013 are yet to be determined.
The Bee Vradenburg Foundation advances the legacy of Bee Vradenburg’s vision of a thriving and diverse cultural community by investing in the excellence, innovation and sustainability of the arts in the Pikes Peak region. Since inception, the foundation has provided more than $1.5 million in grants to nonprofit arts organizations in El Paso and Teller counties.