The Summer Wind: Concert in the Park a real treat

Gorgeous music from a full orchestra, performed as the sun begins to set, isn’t just a mid-winter’s dream, it’s a summertime reality thanks to a prominent local company and many gifted young musicians.

Concert in the Park
is presented by the Gialamas Co., but you can also think of it as your tax dollars at work, because the musicians of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra come from good stock (us).

The 11th annual concert, one of Greater Madison’s can’t-miss summer events, is set for Wednesday evening, Aug. 8, in the Old Sauk Trails Business Park, 1200 John Q. Hammons Drive, Madison.

The origins of this concert can be traced to another summer ritual, golf. More than a decade ago, George and Candy Gialamas were golfing with friends, but the clubhouse was closed by the time they were done and they had to find another way to enjoy the 19th hole.

“One of our friends suggested a local restaurant that had an outdoor patio,” Candy recalled. “A group of musicians from the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra was playing, and after they were finished, Andrew Sewell, the conductor, came over and chatted with our table. After Mr. Sewell’s departure from the conversation, one of our friends suggested that we should put on a concert in Old Sauk Trails Park.

“Shortly thereafter, George asked me what I wanted to do for our anniversary, and I said an outdoor concert!”

Given how much goes into Concert in the Park, an assortment of baubles, bangles, and beads would have been a more likely anniversary gift, but the Gialamas family has no regrets. The concert is one of the many ways the company gives back to Madison, and it’s easy to see why the concept of a summer concert appealed to a musical family, including a lyrical CEO. George sang his way through college as a performer at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and several family members are involved with fundraising for various art and music boards.

Concert in the Park is a family event, complete with a charity-minded ice cream social and post-concert fireworks. Attendees can satisfy their sweet tooth and help the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund, which happens to be host of the Ultimate Ice Cream Social (sponsored by Schoeps Ice Cream). Proceeds will keep the heat and power on year-round for Wisconsin’s most vulnerable populations.

In addition, sponsorship monies are not only used to underwrite the event, but to advance the mission of WYSO, a non-profit organization of more than 5,000 young musicians from communities in southern Wisconsin.

Attendance has grown from 800 the first year, when the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra performed, to audiences of 5,000 in recent years. Tables of eight can still be reserved for $150 by contacting the Gialamas Co.

One of the many reasons the event continues to grow is that people appreciate music’s contributions to the human spirit. “The whole reason I wanted to start Concert in the Park was that music is a universal language and inspires feelings that everyone from any background and culture can relate to,” Candy explained. “Symphony music can bring joy, sadness, excite or sooth, and can inspire a range of emotions depending on the piece.”

Inspirationally speaking, the young musicians do not disappoint. “They give such an exceptional performance, and you can feel their excitement at playing an outdoor venue in front of such a large crowd,” Candy noted. “The audience can truly see how much they enjoy performing.”

Enjoyment is the operative word here, given a setting that includes a warm summer evening, music and all its charms, food and drink, and philanthropy. See you there.

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