The historic venue has undergone many changes since the Southeast Steel Drum Festival last month, including new path construction, site preparation and landscape design. Pete Conroy, chairman of the Music at McClellan committee, said the Monteith Amphitheater still has the same essence it did when it was built in 1937.
“It’s an exciting thing to open this venue back up to the public,” Conroy said. “This will be the first event using the stage and terraced hillside for concert goers to spread out and picnic.”
Since the event starts early in the afternoon, guests are allowed to wear sun visors or hats and bring food, coolers, folding chairs or blankets.
Gracing the stage will be the Etowah Youth Symphony Orchestra. Michael Gagliardo, director and conductor of the Etowah Youth Orchestras, said the young musicians are the best of the string and wood programs at their schools. The orchestra is made up two ensembles, featuring students from different middle and high schools across northeast Alabama. Students have to audition to become part of the Etowah Youth Orchestra, and Gagliardo said the orchestra has some of the most talented and dedicated students.
“Some students play in both the string and wood ensembles and drive as far as an hour for rehearsals,” he said. The orchestra is in its 21st season and will join the company of internationally known acts such as Marlene Dietrich, Bob Hope, Lauren Bacall and Joe Lewis who have all performed at the Monteith Amphitheater.
The Etowah Youth Orchestras have performed across the country and abroad and won countless national awards since Gagliardo was appointed in August 1995. The Music at McClellan concert will be their final performance of the season.
Gagliardo is working to groom the young group of musicians as not only future performers but also patrons and consumers of music as well. “We want to give them as much as we can in additional music opportunities,” he said. “We try to be diverse and offer standard orchestra and band repertoire, movie music, Broadway, pop and rock ‘n’ roll.”
Audiences can expect to hear those diverse sounds at the symphonic concert. “There will be more traditional music as well as classical music compositions,” Gagliardo said. “We’ll be doing new, contemporary music. There’s something for everyone.”
“It will be fantastic, over-the-top, high-quality symphonic music supporting musical endeavors and creating the next generation of symphony,” Conroy said.
Gagliardo insisted that the next generation keeps him young and wanting to experiment with new sounds.
“Even if it’s a 200-year-old musical composition, it will still be new and fresh to them and in the way they play it,” he said. “What I most enjoy about the students is the energy and excitement they bring to performances. You don’t find that with adult, professional ensembles.”
Music at McClellan is the premiere musical destination this summer, featuring jazz, rock, bluegrass and classical music concerts and events, Conroy said.
“There’s a little bit of everything for any audience member.”