The program started years ago in Crandall Park when the orchestra planned to go up and play on a stage that they had constructed, according to Charles Peltz, the music director for the Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra. However, this first concert was cancelled due to rain. Since it is a professional orchestra, the players had to be paid regardless. The city decided to build a performance shell in the park.
“Once that large facility was built, very attractive, I thought to myself and I said to the board and the orchestra, ‘Maybe we could do something a little more elaborate, sort of an old home-based kind of feel,’” said Peltz. Traditionally, vendors begin to set up in the late afternoon, and then families come to have picnics, eat fried dough and hang out. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Peltz said, “It becomes a little but more of a day’s event and we’re very happy about that. We like that. It is very old-fashioned and I like old-fashioned things.”
The concert has pops and patriotic music on the program. “There are themes every year, and sometimes those themes are a little more on the classical side in a sense, but in general we try to offer lighter fare. In many ways, it’s our gesture to the larger community and so we know we’re trying to reach those for whom classical music is not their first choice,” said Peltz. This year, the concert has more pops than in past years and is called “Summer Cruising.”
“We’re trying to invoke the memories of riding in the summertime with the top down and how we love our cars and we love to get in them in the summertime and enjoy the North Country. And so we’re going to be playing all kinds of pop music from the 1940s up to today,” said Peltz. These songs will include movie scores, music from the Beatles and patriotic songs.
Peltz says that the concert is a lot of fun and differs from typical classical concerts. “In this concert, I turn around and there are 4,000 or 5,000 people, it’s a sea of humanity. It’s fabulous, with all the balloons. In between each one of these four or five minute numbers, I get the chance to talk with the community. These are my neighbors and my friends, and we have fun,” said Peltz. “Even more, I get to see their faces and how they react to pieces and that’s something I enjoy.”
The orchestra’s new season will kick off in October and will feature violinist Sarah Chang. Peltz said, “This is a blockbuster of a year, it really is. We’re always very proud of the work that we do. But this year we have a number of people coming in and events that are pretty extraordinary.”
Peltz worked with Chang last summer at the Luzerne Music Center as part of a fundraiser. “At the conclusion of that, we both agreed that we’d enjoyed the experience very much working together. So we began to think about what we might do in the future and she agreed that she would like to come to Glens Falls and is very generous in the terms under which she is doing that.” She will join the orchestra to play the Samuel Barber Violin Concerto, which Peltz calls “a great romantic work of the 20th century.”