A Musical Walk in the Park
Approaching its fourth decade, MUSEP is proof that some things get better with age
For the last four decades, a Sunday stroll in the park for Greensboro residents comes with a musical option. Conceived by former Greensboro Park and Recreation’s musical program director Barry Auman in 1979, the aptly named Music for a Sunday Evening in the Park (MUSEP) series showcases local bands in free concerts in citywide parks. Originally a 6-week program, over the years it expanded into a 12-week, summer-long, fabulously popular celebration of the season. The series features local and regional artists as well as pairing with the EMF, this year featuring the Young Artists Wind Ensemble. It also showcases the Greensboro Concert Band, who kicked off that first MUSEP in Latham Park in ’79, the Philharmonia of Greensboro and the Greensboro Big Band.
The concerts are held in various venues including a new venue addition this year, White Oak Amphitheatre, which hosted the initial dual offering of the Gate City Divas and poet/daredemon/honky-tonk angel David Childers and the Serpents on June 2. Local is the name of the game, says Jennifer Hance, MUSEP’s planner since 2006 (and successor to O.Henry’s own Lynn Donovan, who succeeded Auman in 1991). “We really want to focus on musicians who are in Greensboro and surrounding areas,” she says (which is no doubt music to the ears of journeymen singers, players, bands and orchestras.) Always in touch with its audience to see what they’d like to hear, Hance says “We make sure that we’re getting bands and musicians that the community wants.” Hance has recently moved to the position of community engagement coordinator for Parks and Recreation, with a new Music Center director to be chosen next year.
But no matter who’s in charge, the roving venue concept for the concerts will endure. “It’s always been that way,” Hance says. “The main reason we do that is because we have so many beautiful park facilities here in Greensboro, and we really want to highlight those different facilities and be sure that we’re reaching into all areas of our community.”
Proof of that comes this month, MUSEP’s last for the season, starting with Sweet Dreams’ blues, jazz and R&B echoing through Gateway Gardens on August 4. Wally West, a staple of the series, will wrap up it up on August 25 at Blandwood Mansion with jazz from his Little Big Band.
In addition to the music, Hance says MUSEP gives Greensboroians an opportunity to explore the city’s open air gardens, which she calls hidden gems, showcasing all the facilities available for them to enjoy year round. OH
— Grant Britt