You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2009.

By Ira Rosen, Production Manager

Ira 6-09What’s it like managing 40 performances over 10 days at 4 locations? As Production Manager, I believe that it’s all about keeping things moving and on time. I always joke that my job is to keep the trains on time. If one train runs late, it just slows down all of the other trains. I am responsible for managing all of the events at the Festival Main Stage at Gettysburg College, as well as providing support for all of the Brass events at all of their locations on the festival’s first weekend. I’ve been in the event production business all of my life and have been part of festivals and events all around the world, but I am truly enjoying my Gettysburg Festival experience.
Everyone is doing an outstanding job and being so pleasant to work with. This experience is far more than a one person job and I am very grateful to all of our volunteers, in particular a group of music students from Gettysburg High School. They have worked long hours in the heat and never whined or complained. We also have a great local sound company, Noteworthy Music and a great staging company, Event Central from Harrisburg.
The other major key to our success has been the support and cooperation from the Gettysburg College community. From Facilities Management to the electricians, from Public Safety to the Sunderman Conservatory, everyone has worked together to make this festival a success.
What has surprised me the most about the Festival is the incredible diversity and high quality of all of the performances. I never realized how many different types of brass bands existed! We also have great jazz performances, children’s theater, rock from emerging artist Joel Streeter and we had a fabulous performance on Sunday of a combined brass band and woodwind octet along with vocal soloists, all conducted by Gettysburg College professor Dr. Buzz Jones.
Our biggest concern with an outdoor Festival is weather, and except for a few very stressful hours during our load in on Saturday morning, the weather has been fabulous.
It’s now the final Sunday and although I’m tired, I’m extremely gratified what we’ve accomplished. I am looking forward to being finished on Monday and after a deep breath, helping the Gettysburg Festival staff start planning the 2010 Festival.

By Karen Hendricks, Festival PR/Marketing Director

Although the preparation and planning has been a year in the making, the first weekend of the Festival has gone by in the blink of an eye. It’s been a wonderful kaleidoscope of events – from Thursday night’s powerful River City Brass concert, to thoughtful conversations with Festival artists at Sunday afternoon’s reception at the Sewing Factory Gallery. The highlight, of course, was the beautifully moving Gettysburg Festival Orchestra concert which concluded with the one and only James Earl Jones narrating A Lincoln Portrait. Rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the hundreds of attendees at the Festival Main Stage throughout the day Saturday. The brass played on!  One of the most powerful and moving pieces of music was the National Anthem as performed by the Lancers Senior Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps of Hanover, PA.  WOW!

You can enjoy images of the first weekend by Gettysburg Times photographer Darryl Wheeler:  http://gettysburgtimes.mycapture.com/mycapture/folder.asp?event=781521&CategoryID=45246&ListSubAlbums=0

Performances aside, there are so many amazing, behind-the-scenes stories unfolding that it’s impossible to capture and write about them all!  But I will share just a few that have stuck with me.

Friday evening, I was coordinating with a local television crew doing a live shot from Gettysburg’s Lincoln Square, where Festival brass concerts were taking place.  The reporter was interviewing the Festival’s Artistic Director for Culinary Arts, Walter Scheib, who, as a former White House chef, was wearing his chef coat emblazoned with his name, the American flag and U.S. seal.  As the interview wrapped up, a couple came walking past, staring at his chef’s coat which evidently had made quite an impression on them.  I was sure they were gawking at the fact that they were seeing a former White House chef directly on the town square in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Then they approached him, asking Walter if his name was truly “Scheib.”  Coincidentally, this couple, visiting from Philadelphia, shared his surname of “Scheib.”  (Walter later told me he had never met anyone with the German name of Scheib outside of his family!)  So Mr. and Mrs. Scheib of Philadelphia shared a few minutes of conversation with Chef Walter Scheib, formerly of the White House, for a few minutes on Lincoln Square in the midst of the Gettysburg Festival. 

Another fun behind-the-scenes event took place Friday evening following the Festival’s signature event for 2009, the performance by the Gettysburg Festival Orchestra featuring James Earl Jones.  My dear friend, Fred Snyder of Gettysburg’s WGET Radio, experienced one of the biggest thrills of his life, and I was so happy to share in it alongside him.  Fred, an avid baseball fan (although I refuse to mention his favorite team!) as well as a James Earl Jones fan, has a favorite movie that combines these two passions:  Field of Dreams.  Fred actually had the foresight to slip a brand-new baseball into his pocket on the way to the theater that night.  As we were standing at the Dessert Reception held in James Earl Jones’ honor following the performance, Fred caught sight of our honored guest slipping away from the reception.  Fred, who is not exactly young or physically fit (sorry, Fred!), dashed after his idol.  A minute later, a flushed Fred came dashing back to the reception with the excitement of a little leaguer who had just caught a fly baseball in right field.  His fingers gripped a baseball bearing the signature of non other than James Earl Jones.  And his grin literally went from ear-to-ear.  His voice, normally deep and resonant through the radio airwaves, hit octaves it probably hadn’t reached since 1955.  “He signed my baseball!  Look!  James Earl Jones signed my baseball!” 

And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. 

James Earl Jones himself signed it!

James Earl Jones himself signed it!

Fred Snyder of WGET Radio holding his signed baseball.
Fred Snyder of WGET Radio holding his signed baseball.

By Miriam B. Grinberg, Intern

It’s now Day 6 of the Festival, and Festival headquarters seems deceptively quiet. I say “deceptively” because, despite appearances, there is still a lot of work to be done—everything from preparing for a full weekend of jazz events to wrapping up the Festival in general. My part lately in all of this has been to conduct surveys at various Festival events alongside the head surveyor, Carolyn Greaney.

Carolyn and I planned out which events we would survey at in the beginning of the week, making sure to pick at least a couple out of every genre offered by the Festival this year. Carolyn designed the survey, which contained questions ranging from “How did you hear about the Festival?” to “What is your highest level of education?” for Festival attendees. The surveys we are collecting are statistical samplings that constitute part of a larger study of the Festival overall and provide us with valid data.

Generally the surveying has been going really well so far; no one has actually refused to be interviewed. Being from the Philadelphia suburbs, where people can be just as rude as those living in the city, I was absolutely amazed at the willingness of folks in this area to volunteer information and not just treat me as an unwanted solicitor (and I’m sure I looked like one, walking around with my clipboard in the background). I’m really thankful for the generosity of Festival attendees and volunteers!

Results of these surveys have been interesting so far, and attendees this year have come from places both near (Gettysburg, East Berlin, Orrtanna, etc.) and far (one man I interviewed brought his entire family from Ohio!). While many of the attendees I collected surveys from hadn’t attended many events and didn’t know what they wanted to see next, others had been to many of the art exhibits and brass concerts. The latter would take much longer to survey, but that’s never a bad thing. It’s great to see people taking advantage of the Festival’s many free events!

Of the questions asked on the survey, I would say that asking people their age and highest level of education have been the most awkward; again, however, no one has refused to answer either question. Both are critical to helping the Festival understand who our attendees are and note any trends in the data that would indicate a need for improvement and diversification in programming events for next year.

The final section of the survey asked attendees for suggestions and comments to improve the Festival, and I received some feedback that I think could definitely be incorporated. One comment I got a few times from younger attendees was a desire to see more information about the artists and the works of the Sculpture Walk on Gettysburg College’s campus near the sculptures themselves. Finally, I interviewed a number of people that requested a greater diversity of music offered at the Festival, with suggestions ranging from Latin to string quartets to punk rock bands. I’m not sure how well that last one would go over with most Festival attendees, but hey, it’s the thought that counts!

After we gather a bunch more surveys during the last few days of the Festival, Carolyn and I face the larger task ahead of us: hand-tabulating the surveys and compiling a set of data that can easily be browsed and assessed by Festival staff and others. It’s a bit daunting, but considering the fact that I’m thinking about going into a career of field research, I’m sure I’ll find it fascinating.

A magical opening to the Gettysburg Festival!  James Earl Jones narrating Lincoln Portrait was spectacular.

See the Channel 27 website for a wonderful piece on the Festival including an interview with James Earl Jones:

http://www.whtm.com/news/stories/0609/633518_video.html?ref=newsstory

And see the Channel 8 website for a great live shot from Lincoln Square:

http://www.wgal.com/video/19806936/index.html

nnunamakerBy Dr. Norman Nunamaker, Artistic Director for Orchestra

The Festival’s signature event for 2009, the June 20 Lincoln Portrait performance, offers some of the most famous and most exciting American music ever written, and will appeal to music lovers of all stripes!  Aaron Copland has been considered the Dean of American Composers, and has written many works that have entered the standard orchestral repertory. His Appalachian Spring, written in the 1940s for Martha Graham’s ballet company, is one of the most frequently performed American works in our history. The music mirrors the story of a family living in the bucolic farmland of western Pennsylvania and closes with the famous Simple Gifts.  Copland’s Lincoln Portrait is another magnificent work devoted to Americana, and uses a narrator to set the scene and to offer quotes from Lincoln’s inaugural address and the most quoted speech ever written, the “Gettysburg Address.” The narrator for this work, which closes the concert, is none other than James Earl Jones.

Gershwin’s musical background was founded upon jazz and the popular music of his time. When he turned his attention to the larger classical forms, he created masterpieces of American music. His Concerto in F is one of the most outstanding contributions to piano literature.

Randy Edelman had written many successful film scores before undertaking the task for the film Gettysburg. The score to this film has received many performances throughout the country, and the Symphonic Suite, consisting of excerpts from this two hour long film, has made this music even more accessible to the public. The performance at the Majestic Theater will include visuals of Gettysburg and its environs to enhance the experience of this great music.

The Festival logo on display in Lincoln Square

The Festival logo on display in Lincoln Square

By Miriam B. Grinberg, Gettysburg Festival Intern

With the Festival just TWO days away now from its kickoff on the 18th, one of the biggest goals of the staff here at the Festival is getting the word out to as many people as possible to come and enjoy the amazing events offered in Gettysburg. And what better way to “spread the gospel,” so to speak, than three enormous, multi-colored banners hanging on the flagpole smackdab in the center of Lincoln Square?

These banners, however, are more than just a brilliant PR move – they also symbolize the culmination of a year’s hard work on the part of the staff here at the Festival office, and will no doubt draw even more attention to the Festival. Even against the lately grey skies overhanging the town, the banners seem to light up the square with the promise of an exciting Festival schedule (and sunnier days) ahead.

Gettysburg Festival Interns Rebecca Buxton and Leslie Lindemann prepare for the Festival

Gettysburg Festival Interns Rebecca Buxton and Leslie Lindemann prepare for the Festival

Volunteer Training Underway as the Festival Draws Near

By Miriam B. Grinberg, Gettysburg Festival Intern

Gettysburg Festival Volunteers gather at the Festival office for an orientation session.

Gettysburg Festival Volunteers gather at the Festival office for an orientation session.

It’s been about a month since I started working as a summer intern for the Gettysburg Festival, and things have never been busier at the Festival’s main office as they have been in the past few days. In exactly a week the Festival will begin its ten-day smorgasbord of orchestral, jazz, visual arts, culinary arts, and children’s events, the wealth and variety of which are simply staggering—even to Festival staff like me.

Accordingly, the need for volunteers ready to work at the Festival’s 100 plus events and have a welcoming, friendly countenance throughout is greater than ever. The Festival has had over 100 volunteers throughout the year to date, and I can say from personal experience that these volunteers are just some of the best people you could enlist for a mammoth undertaking such as this. To transform this little town of Gettysburg into a new cultural mecca takes a small army of dedicated individuals, and with the Festival growing in size and standing every year, we know that these individuals are providing the foundation for even bigger and improved Festival efforts in the future.

To manage all these volunteers and properly orient them in their newfound positions, however, is no easy undertaking. In the days preceding the Festival, orientation sessions under the direction of Festival staff are being held for the Festival’s volunteers. These sessions cover everything from a general overview of the events scheduled to tips for handling media reporters to dress code, with no stone left unturned. Over 25,000 visitors are expected at this year’s Festival, so the need for well-trained and well-informed volunteers is of utmost importance. These volunteers will need to be able to answer basic questions about the Festival, such as venue locations and event dates and times, and also know what to do in case of emergency situations. With volunteers at the “front line” of the Festival, it is imperative that they are able to not only have a commanding knowledge of the events they are stationed at, but also of other events of interest.

These meetings also gave some hints as to what’s planned in the future; Artistic Director Alice Estrada mentioned “more chamber [music] events” and expressed enthusiasm for the Festival’s new culinary arts events, remarking that they “marry tourism and agriculture, two of Pennsylvania’s biggest industries.” The need to bring in younger attendees and volunteers was also touched upon. Being a younger person myself, I hope that this year’s Festival is able to attract more people of my generation through our new outlets on Facebook and Twitter online. These social networking websites can work wonders for the Festival, and I know that I, for one, will be heavily promoting the Festival’s events on my own Facebook page over the next few weeks.

The Gettysburg Festival on Facebook

 

The Gettysburg Festival on Twitter

 

I look forward to seeing you all at the Festival!

Festival Public Relations:  by Festival Intern Christianna Giordano, Gettysburg College Class of 2010

 My role in the 2009 Gettysburg Festival has been both challenging and rewarding.  I hope to offer some insight, through this blog, into the many tasks that paved the way for the creation of this year’s Gettysburg Festival.

I began looking for an internship as soon as I got back to school after Christmas break. After spending a few days searching, I came across the Gettysburg Festival’s posting in the Gettysburg College Career Center and the opportunity seemed too good to pass up. I emailed the Festival’s PR/Marketing Director Karen Hendricks, inquiring if this position for a PR/marketing intern was still available and quickly received a warm response from her saying it was. We emailed back and forth and set up an interview time. I came in, was welcomed by the Office Manager Bev Grazulewicz, and after one of the most comfortable and anxiety-calming interviews with Karen I got the job!

I started working shortly thereafter, and Karen had me immediately jumping into projects, writing biographies and website entries for Festival artists, which I gladly accepted, loving the challenge. I attended my first staff meeting the next week and was amazed when I saw the meeting agenda which was five pages long!  Executive Director Alice Estrada led the meeting, which lasted several hours.  After this meeting, when five pages of notes were covered and all the departments accomplished what they needed to, I realized the Gettysburg Festival was no simple organization. Since then, this realization has been reconfirmed daily.   

A typical day for me begins with a meeting with Karen and we lay out my duties for the day.  My responsibilities evolved from researching and writing about Festival artists, to writing press releases, and coordinating community participation in a culinary event. My first press release was one about the Festival’s brass lineup in which I condensed and combined all the performance information into a concise and clear press release to send out to brass publications, newspapers, and other media.  My last press release was a call for volunteers in which I urged members of the Gettysburg community to help the festival with their time and skills.

Another project I began was an event called “Friday Night Festivities” in which I met with local restaurants and venues asking them to participate in the Festival’s June 19th brass concerts on Lincoln Square by creating specials to compliment the evening’s festivities. 

I hope everyone who attends this year’s Festival has a wonderful experience!