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Gettysburg Festival’s All-American Brass Picnic on Saturday, June 16 will offer a “picnic in the park” setting at the Festival Main Stage at Gettysburg College. The full afternoon lineup will spotlight some of the best brass groups from the mid-Atlantic region as part of the 10-day Gettysburg Festival celebrating American arts, culture and cuisine.

“The brass picnic is truly a slice of Americana and a great way for the community to come together,” said Beth Kirby, Executive Director of the Festival. “Gettysburg Festival is pleased to offer free admission to this fantastic event, meeting our goal of making the arts accessible and available to all.”

The lineup includes:

12 pm: Spires Brass Band of Frederick, MD
1 pm: Athena Brass, representing 13 states across the USA plus Canada
2 pm: No BS! Brass Band of Richmond, VA
4 pm: Rodney Mack Philadelphia Big Brass of Philadelphia, PA

This project is partially supported by a grant from Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, a program developed and funded by The Heinz Endowments, the William Penn Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and The Pew Charitable Trusts, and administered by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. Media sponsors for the All American Brass Picnic include Celebrate Gettysburg Magazine and Susquehanna Style Magazine.

A Dream Team Gives Back

The Rodney Mack Philadelphia Big Brass (RMPBB) is composed of some of America’s top brass musicians dedicated to bringing the joyous experience of great music to a wide range of audiences. A veritable “dream team” of virtuoso brass players, members of the group have appeared on the world’s most prominent stages.

RMPBB is dedicated to the notion that music is a gift to be enjoyed by everyone, and its members are especially committed to reaching out to the world’s youth and inspiring them to reach for their dreams. To share this commitment in Gettysburg, the Rodney Mack Philadelphia Big Brass will offer a free workshop; open to brass musicians of all ages and levels.

This unique opportunity, partially supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, will take place on June 16th from 11am -12pm at The Junction in the College Union Building (CUB) of Gettysburg College. The workshop is free but reservations are required and can be made by calling the Festival office at (717)334-0853.

New to the Festival Stage

Named after the Greek Goddess of wisdom, the Athena Brass Band is the first all-female brass band in the United States. Formed in 2003, with members from across the country and Canada, Athena musicians include current or former members of the U.S. Army Band, the U.S. Coast Guard Band, Brass Band of Battle Creek and the New Sousa Band.

If You Decide to Go…

The Festival Main Stage is shifting to a new, larger location on the Gettysburg College campus for 2012. It will be located on Memorial Field, behind the College Union Building, with free on-campus parking nearby at Stadium Lot. This more spacious location allows for better visibility of the stage, without trees in the line of sight; however portions of the day have the potential for direct sunlight so attendees are encouraged to wear hats and bring sunscreen as desired.

A wide selection of classic American picnic fare by outstanding regional vendors, along with beer, wine and other beverages, will be available. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs, and may bring sun umbrellas to set around the edges of the seating area.

A Brass-tastic Weekend

Additional Gettysburg Festival brass performances include:

  • Brass on the Square, 6-8pm, June 15 in front of the Gettysburg Hotel in Lincoln Square. Enjoy the music, while strolling through the Square watching downtown scenes come to life on artists’ canvases, as part of the Quick Draw a new Festival event, taking place simultaneously. The Quick Draw is a timed competition, after which work is judged, prizes awarded, and work will be immediately included in a “wet sale.” Prizes for this event were generously donated by ACNB and Blick Art Materials.
  • Wildcat Regiment Band, a Civil War period band, performs on June 16 at 2 pm at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center and at the Pennsylvania Monument at 6 pm.

Support for Brass Music

Generous support for the 2012 All American Brass Picnic is provided by Dr Pepper Snapple and by Gen On, and by the Ben Jones’ Tuba Open Golf Brass Benefit. This golf tournament, organized to support brass programming, will be played Thursday, June 14 at Mountain View Golf Club. For more information and registration contact Ben Jones at or 334 7719.

All 2012 Festival brass performances are free and open to the public; however, tickets to the All-American Brass Picnic are required for entry. Visit to obtain your free ticket. Donations are graciously accepted at the Picnic, so that this free, quality programming may continue.

By Elizabeth Palmer, Gettysburg Festival PR/Marketing Intern

This year’s culinary event Chocolate Sinema brings something new to the Festival. For the first time in the Festival’s four-year history, a culinary event has been designed in conjunction with a classic film. Festival-goers will be able to savor the heartwarming story of Vianne Rocher in Chocolat while being tempted by the promise of a chocolate reception upon the film’s conclusion. Chocolate Sinema is the first culinary event to feature a menu designed entirely around my favorite part of a meal—dessert!

From Halloween to Valentine’s Day, ice cream to cookies, mousse to candy bars, I am crazy about chocolate. While I have always been a chocolate lover, I have never realized its health benefits. Since chocolate is made from plants, it contains many of the same nutrients as dark-colored vegetables, including flavonoids. These are compounds that can lower blood pressure and balance certain hormones in the body. Flavonoids may also act preventatively against cancer: they can help reduce cell damage that could potentially lead to tumor growth. Additionally, flavonoids act as antioxidants, which prevent heart disease and the effects of aging. Antioxidants are especially prevalent in dark chocolate, which contains almost eight times the antioxidants of strawberries!

Dark chocolate also contains many other health benefits. Studies have shown that enjoying one small dark chocolate bar a day can lower cholesterol by 10%. Not only does dark chocolate carry with it physical health benefits, but also emotional benefits. Consuming dark chocolate stimulates the body’s production of endorphins, which release feelings of pleasure and well-being. Dark chocolate is also full of serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant. Eating chocolate will certainly elevate your mood and keep you happy!

Chocolate cheesecake

For those of you concerned about the fat content of chocolate, place your worries aside. Dark chocolate is composed of three types of fats: oleic acid, stearic acid and palmitic acid. While this seems like a lot, studies have shown that only one of these fats, palmitic acid, has negative effects on the body.  Stearic acid is a saturated fat with a neutral effect on cholesterol and oleic acid is an example of a healthy monosaturated fat. If fat content is still a concern, avoid chocolate containing nougat or caramel in favor of more natural ingredients such as orange peel or nuts. This will help cut back on excess sugar and fat.

Chocolate mousse

While chocolate has been given a bad reputation, many studies have determined its wide range of health benefits. My personal favorite is a study proving that chocolate may have a positive effect on math skills. In 2009, a study at Northumbria University in England concluded that people count backwards better after drinking hot chocolate containing 500mg of flavanols. This is because chocolate improves blood flow to the brain. Who knew chocolate could improve your mathematical abilities? It seems like there is a health benefit in dark chocolate for everyone—in case anyone needed an excuse to indulge in this decadent treat.

Chocolate Sinema will be a great opportunity to put these benefits into use. The reception has been designed to feature a bounty of chocolate-themed delicacies, including artisan chocolates, pastries, fondue, petit fours and even martinis and coffees infused with chocolate. Chocolate Sinema will leave you feeling satisfied—by the richness of Chocolat and by the chocolate confections themselves.

By Jenny Carrington, Gettysburg Festival Intern, Gettysburg College Class of 2012

Just recently, I was able to get my hands on Straight No Chaser’s 2010 album release, “With A Twist.” Having a better understanding of Straight No Chaser’s musical style and typical song selection, I began listening to the album with a certain sound in mind, and expected to hear their musicality and comedic selves come through the music; I was absolutely thrilled by what I heard. While the sound is distinctly Straight No Chaser, certain songs on the album show off the strong musical creativity this group possesses, and the uncanny ability they have to imitate the quality and style of popular songs by world-famous bands—but without any instruments other than their voices.

The first song that jumped out at me was “You & Me & The Bottle Makes Three/Single Ladies.” Being a huge Beyonce fan, I smiled trying to imagine a group of men sing her hit single, “Single Ladies.” I youtubed “You & Me & The Bottle Makes Three,” and discovered that it’s a lively swing dance number originally by the band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. I could easily envision a big band playing for a crowded dance floor with couples wildly dancing. This swing-dancing image is definitely translated in Straight No Chaser’s arrangement of the song:


The accompanying voices and constant “finger-snapping” create a strong “big-band feel,” and push the song along at a very fast pace. About two-thirds of the way through the song, the lead vocals cut out, and you can hear what sounds like a crowded room full of people, loudly chatting as the background vocals continue. As the lead vocals layer back on, you expect the swing number to pick back up when suddenly, you hear, “All the single ladies, all the single ladies!” Even though Beyonce’s song is in the title, hearing them singing those words is completely unexpected, but definitely a very nice surprise. All in all, this song is a great representation of their ability to embrace very specific genres of music while adding their own “twist.”

The next song that caught my ear was “Under the Bridge,” a famous Red Hot Chili Peppers hit from 2006. What’s great about Straight No Chaser’s arrangement of the song is that they incorporate bell tones into the first twenty seconds. If you’ve ever watched NBC’s “The Sing Off,” you’ll know that one of the judges constantly praises groups for their use of bell tones, or sequential notes that sound like ringing bells. Straight No Chaser’s bell tones wonderfully emulate the opening guitar sequence in the original Chili Peppers song. The bell tones stop, and the soloist sings the first two lines of the song without accompaniment. As voices begin joining him, I quickly notice that while they’re remaining true to the classic, they’re putting their own “twist” on the song, showing the mark of an innovative, talented a cappella group.

I could easily write paragraph after paragraph praising all the songs on this great album; they’re all so good! Other familiar song titles that you might be interested in are, “You’re My Best Friend,” “Joy To The World” and “One Voice” (clip below), featuring the voice of the man himself, Barry Manilow. I think “With A Twist” was the perfect title for this album: each song remains faithful to its original counterpart, but is “twisted” in such a way that the song becomes uniquely Straight No Chaser.

Listening to the album only makes me more anxious for their June 10 Gettysburg Festival concert  (click here for details).  Tickets are selling quickly!  I cannot wait to hear their signature songs at the beautiful outdoor Festival Main Stage—and they wouldn’t be complete, without plenty of twists.              

By Jenny Carrington, Festival Intern, Gettysburg College Class of 2012

“They’re a phenomenon… with a massive fan base, more than 20 million views on YouTube, numerous national TV appearances, their third album… Straight No Chaser!” your friend exclaims. “They’re coming here! Come to their concert with me!”

“Okay! But, what does the group sound like?” you ask. The friend describes the band as a young group of men with killer bassists and a percussion section that always keeps a strong, steady beat, with incredible lead vocals coupled with intricate and tight harmonies, and with amazing energy on the stage. “Great!” you say, enthusiastic about a band that should prove to put on a very entertaining concert.

You arrive at the venue and upon taking your seats, you’re surprised by what aren’t on the stage: instruments. Instead, you find ten microphones in a semi-arch on the stage surrounded by absolutely nothing else. “But where are the guitars, the basses, the drum kits, the amps?” you ask your friend. “Where are the instruments?” The lights dim, the stage lights blast on, and out walk ten smartly dressed, smiling men. Each member stands in front of a microphone, one announces that they’re, “Straight No Chaser,” and you realize that these musicians have no need for drum kits or guitars: these musicians are the instruments. Upon hearing a softly-played tone, they open their mouths and sing their first opening chords and you swear someone is hiding back stage with a top hat or the technicians are playing pre-recorded voices that have been autotuned to the point of robotic perfection; no, what you’re hearing is organic and in real-time, is something fantastic and enthralling; what you’re hearing is a cappella.

Festival Main Stage at Gettysburg College

Straight No Chaser, a group made up of Indiana University graduates, will be coming to Gettysburg, PA on Friday, June 10th to woo us with their sweet-sounding music as a part of the Gettysburg Festival.  Tickets are available beginning February 21st through the Festival’s ticketing agent, Event Brite.

These singers are already world-famous, as one can see on their website.  They’ll be singing in the UK in May and then will be heading on back to the states for their Gettysburg Festival performance! We are definitely in for a musical treat.

But, what if you’ve never heard Straight No Chaser? What do they actually sound like? As an introduction to their outstanding, stylized music, here is a clip of them singing the 1960s classic “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”  In this video, you can see that Straight No Chaser has mastered a winning performance method: audiences can appreciate their musicality, while still being entertained by their wonderful goofiness and charm.

As your local Gettysburg Festival music critic, I will be posting more blog entries about Straight No Chaser throughout the next couple months. I’m very excited for their upcoming Gettysburg Festival performance! If you would like to know about other great events that the Festival has planned for all of you in June, visit the Festival website,

By Alice Estrada, Executive Director

Everywhere I go lately, I run into people who ask, “Who’s coming to the Festival this June?” or “When will the Festival announce its lineup?”  Prolific snowfall, frigid temperatures and cabin fever have all contributed to “the winter blues” for most of us.

The Gettysburg Festival Main Stage area, Gettysburg College, under a blanket of snow, February 2010

I think people are truly looking forward to spring and summer, more so than in years past.  And so I am thrilled that the Festival announced its headline acts last week.  Hopefully we can provide a glimpse into summer schedules and offer some hope that it’s not that far off, after all.

From jazz guitarist/singer John Pizzarelli to the world-famous Boston Brass… from the magical Cashore Marionettes to the fun Caribbean beat of Afro Bop Alliance… from the prestigious NPR show “From the Top” to the popular downtown “History Meets the Arts” events at local galleries… the 2010 Festival lineup is strong.  It’s another great mix of free versus premium, ticketed events.  We are so happy to share excellence in the arts with our visitors for free.  Outstanding concerts such as the Boston Brass and Afro Bop Alliance will be free and open to the public—what a great value in today’s economy.  I’m not only referring to money:  I am a strong believer in the power of the arts to uplift and transform people’s lives.

Boston Brass: Doesn't this photo say "summer" with its blue skies?

And we’re not done yet!  In the coming weeks, we will announce exciting plans to bring a popular artist to the Festival—a first for us.  And the Festival’s Culinary Committee is cooking up another extraordinary lineup under former White House Chef Walter Scheib’s leadership.  We’ll reveal plans for picnics, formal dinners, cookouts, and our Edible Art Tour through downtown galleries.

So don’t despair–spring is on its way and the Gettysburg Festival will usher in the first days of summer.  I invite you to spend these last few weeks of winter exploring the Festival website often, checking back for more and more fabulous events as they’re added to the lineup.  Take the time to subscribe to Festival e-newsletters, sign up for Facebook and become a fan of the Festival, or follow us on Twitter.  We can’t wait to share more details with you – see you this summer!


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Cut & paste this link to subscribe to Festival e-newsletters–or click on the envelope icon on the Festival website:

Many thanks!

Written By: Michael Laughlin,  Gettysburg Festival Intern, Gettysburg College Class of 2010

I’m not sure that I have ever attended a festival of any type, let alone a fine arts festival. At least I can’t remember ever being at one. I say let alone a fine arts festival not because there is something wrong with the fine arts but because they were never really on my radar screen. Growing up I was always more interested in John Madden than Jean Valjean, Bruce Springsteen than Miles Davis and New York pizza than flambé. I was a product of the times perhaps.

So how does a Gettysburg College frat guy with no festival experience end up working for the fine arts Gettysburg Festival? Taking things a step further how could I possibly make a positive contribution? I guess the answer has more to do with serendipity, frat guys know big words too, than anything else. Checking emails one day I came across one about a marketing/pr internship with the Festival. Considering my mom had recently laid the guilt trip that I do nothing but hang out, waste my free time, and destroy my mind with video games/action movies, I decided to check it out. At least if I was involved with the Festival I could watch Die Hard in peace right? So after a phone call and a visit I began working at the Festival as an intern.

First day impressions –> I’m the only guy in the office but everyone is really nice and the work seems ok, I can handle this. Since the first day my impressions and experiences have changed dramatically. Now everyone yells at me and the chain they put on my ankle is really tight. Ok a poor attempt at humor but in all seriousness my experience has changed. I have had the opportunity to see the arts from a new perspective. I’ve been able to hear some jazz and see Lincoln artwork. Besides the exposure to new art I’ve been able to take a fresh look at what I’m already familiar with. For example instead of just focusing on Bruce I’ve started listening to Clarence Clemons. Clemons is the sax player in Bruce’s E-Street Band but has a solo rock/jazz/funk style of his own. Perhaps Miles Davis is the next step.

I’d like to think my internship has been mutually beneficial. In addition to other responsibilities I’ve played a large role in trying to bring a younger demographic to the Festival. I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on meetings and give input of my own. Input on what someone my age is probably interested in, how much they will spend on a specific event and what’s going to make them stop playing video games and come to the Festival. I’ve been focusing on event ideas that could bridge the gap between younger and older generations with something that appeals to both. Not an easy task. I think my input has been valuable for the staff in understanding what will and won’t bring the younger audience in. I’d like to expose some of the older attendees to some aspect of my generation and my experiences. The same way that my horizons have been broadened through the fine arts I feel others could have their horizons broadened by younger art. Even if they don’t consider it “art” right now. In the same process the younger attendees would be exposed, as I have been, to jazz, brass, theatre, culinary, and visual arts.

I think that is what the Gettysburg Festival is best at: exposing people to something new, blending old and new experiences for people of all demographics, and leaving them with a changed perspective. I’m happy that I’ve had the opportunity to both experience this firsthand and make a positive contribution in bringing it to others.