It was an idea that first began 27 years ago, combined with a dream of filling a local park with Gospel music. Those two dreams have turned into a weekly stop to hear some memorable sacred music during the summer, attracting spectators locally and nationally. And another season is upon us.
“Music in the Park” at Coleman Park Veteran’s Memorial Amphitheatre, located on the north side of Lebanon off State Route 72, kicks off a new series Sunday, featuring bands on a local and national level.
“Southern Gospel music is a group all by itself. It has tremendous following,” said “Music in the Park” Board of Directors Head Chuck Musser. “People come from all over.”
Held every Sunday from Sunday, June 5, through Aug. 28, “Servant Stage Company” will be the first to hit the amphitheater stage, beginning at 7 p.m. The band will perform a reincarnation of a live radio program.
And like every season it’s had, “Music in the Park,” which is a non-profit cooperation, has some notable bands coming to share its sacred music in the area.
Nationally, Grammy and GMA DOVE award-winning recording artist Guy Penrod and Gang comes to Coleman Park July 24, and is expected to attract a full-capacity crowd. Other bands coming throughout the summer include “The Browns,” a four-time Top 10 Mixed Group of the Year award winner (June 26), “The Talley’s,” one of Christian music’s most beloved and respected farm families, who are from Indiana (July 10), “Tribute Quartet,” one of country’s most dynamic and beloved male quartets in all of gospel music (July 31), and “The Hoppers,” a multi-ward winning family group (August 14).
Musser says the huge following and turnouts are a big doorstep to bringing in these types of acts year in and year out.
“I hit up one of them one time and asked them where they would place Lebanon attendance-wise. They said Lebanon is within the top five,” he said.
Locally, the Hershey Symphony Orchestra is one of the main highlights of the summer, as they come to Lebanon July 17, performing the exact concert they will display for the Fourth of July in front of Hershey Medical Center. On June 19, “The Celtic Martins” come to town. The band is a local family group bringing new energy to Celtic Music and Dance scene, featuring Irish and American fiddle tunes, along with numerous Irish step dance routines. Toward the end of the season, Lebanon Swing Band will hit the stage August 21.
Another big reason why bands of all levels are attracted to perform in the area is knowing what the venue has to offer.
“I like Coleman Park because it has the setting you want,” Musser said. “There’s good shade, you have an unusual amphitheater and the acoustics are so good. Artists really love that place.”
And when you come to experience Coleman Park and hear some of the best Gospel music around, Musser hopes every evening will take you away from everyday life.
“I want to see an allocation where you can just downright enjoy the evening,” he said. “Maybe some are carrying some burdens and problems, and we want them to into a different world for an hour and a half or two hours.”
To help pay for expenses, the cooperation thanks their sponsors and patrons. Before each concert however, there will be a free-will offering collected. All shows throughout the summer start at 7 p.m. For more information, call 270-7285. You can also visit www.musicinthepark.net, or "like" them on Facebook.