Allegro staging Warrenton summer concert series
Allegro Community School of the Arts founders Lachelle and Sam Yoder quickly agreed to take over the summer concert series.
This painting, by the late Bill Lewis, depicts the Pan Masters Steel Orchestra’s 1989 performance in Warrenton.
They are a wonderful organization and have done concerts for many years in Warrenton and Fauquier County . . . . They are very enthusiastic about taking over the summer concerts.
— Peter Dunning, Bluemont Concert Series founder
The founding sponsor folded this year, but Warrenton’s four-decade tradition of outdoor summer concerts will continue.
Starting July 7, Allegro Community School of the Arts will stage seven Saturday night concerts on Culpeper Street near the Warren Green Building.
“The concert series is an important part of the town,” Allegro co-founder Lachelle Yoder said. “It’s part of the culture and enhances who we are in Warrenton.”
When the Bluemont Concert Series in April announced that it would dissolve, Town Manager Brannon Godfrey approached the founders of Allegro, a non-profit arts school, about the possibility of organizing the performances.
Allegro’s leaders wholeheartedly agreed and immediately started planning.
“Our mission is to bring the art to life, and this is part of that,” Ms. Yoder said. “Part of it is giving back to the community.”
Founded 14 years ago, Allegro moved to Warrenton’s Main Street in 2013.
Offering private music, theatre and visual arts classes for all ages, the nonprofit has staged more than a dozen large events, including plays such as “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Wizard of Oz.”
The concert series will be “very similar to putting on a theatre production, putting up a stage, sound equipment,” Ms. Yoder said. “The big thing we need now are volunteers.”
The organization hopes to recruit 10 to 15 volunteers per concert. Eight dedicated volunteers from Bluemont have already committed to helping, Ms. Yoder said.
Allegro board member and Communications Officer Aimée O’Grady will chair the Warrenton concert series, with Ms. Yoder serving as program director. Allegro co-founder Sam Yoder will run the sound system.
With a budget of more than $20,000, Allegro received funding from the Town of Warrenton, a Virginia Commission for the Arts grant and donations from several local businesses and organizations.
The organization already owned a stage but purchased lighting and an additional soundboard for the summer concerts with part of a $10,000 PATH Foundation grant, according to Ms. Yoder.
Allegro will introduce several changes to the concert series, including the addition of family activities, starting an hour before the 7:30 p.m. concerts. The family hour will feature crafts, face painting, cotton candy and a physical activity, such as Zumba for children.
Audience members can bring their own snacks, but a food truck and beer garden will provide options.
“We want to make sure we are honoring Bluemont and what they did . . . and adjust it for Warrenton families,” Ms. Yoder said.
Allegro hopes to continue the artists-in-education presentations and performances at elder care homes, something that set Bluemont apart.
More than 35 years ago, Peter Dunning started the Bluemont Concert Series, which sprang from community dances in the western Loudoun County village of Bluemont.
Mr. Dunning also led setup and tear-down of stages, lights and sound systems in three or four towns a weekend, as he booked classical, jazz, country, folk, rock and global musical acts to perform back-to-back-to-back in Leesburg, Warrenton, Winchester, Luray, Ashland and other communities.
“It would be arrogant for me to give them advice,” Mr. Dunning said of Allegro’s plan in a phone interview Monday. “They are a wonderful organization and have done concerts for many years in Warrenton and Fauquier County . . . . They are very enthusiastic about taking over the summer concerts.”
But, Mr. Dunning said running the outdoor concert series presents several challenges, especially weather.
He recalls starting to set up equipment at 4 p.m. — more than three hours before the concerts began.
Some nights he would stay until 11 p.m. or midnight, tearing down the stage and sound equipment with 10 to 20 volunteers, mostly high school and college students, and driving the equipment back to the Bluemont headquarters in Loudoun County.
“The secret to the success of the Bluemont project was we were able to find those good leaders in the community (board members, volunteers) and support them once they are involved,” Mr. Dunning said.
One of the benefits for Allegro includes having basement storage on Culpeper Street near the concert location.
Allegro will suspend its three-week theatre camp this summer to focus on the concert series and private lessons.
The concerts will remain in the traditional Culpeper Street location, with Taylor Middle School again serving as the venue in inclement weather.
Tickets will be available in advance online or at the entrance at $5 for adults, $4 for Friends of Allegro, $25 for a season pass. Children 5 and younger get in free. Cash or credit cards will be accepted.
Those who want to volunteer or provide financial support for the concert series should contact Ms. Yoder at email@example.com or 540-349-5088.
Allegro Updated Summer Concert Flyer 2018 by Fauquier Now on Scribd
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