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Savannah’s annual Picnic in the Park features Philharmonic concert, live cannons

  • Savannah’s annual Picnic in the Park is Oct. 8 in Forsyth Park. (Photo by Geoff L Johnson)
  • Conductor Peter Shannon leads the Savannah Philharmonic at 2016’s Picnic in the Park. (Photo by Geoff L Johnson)
  • Savannah’s annual Picnic in the Park is Oct. 8 in Forsyth Park. (Photo by Geoff L Johnson)
  • Savannah’s annual Picnic in the Park is Oct. 8 in Forsyth Park. (Photo by Geoff L Johnson)
  • Savannah’s annual Picnic in the Park is Oct. 8 in Forsyth Park. (Photo by Geoff L Johnson)
  • Savannah’s annual Picnic in the Park is Oct. 8 in Forsyth Park. (Photo by Geoff L Johnson)
 

Savannah’s annual Picnic in the Park features Philharmonic concert, live cannons

03 Oct 2017

Picnic in the Park is one of Savannah’s most popular events.

Presented by the Savannah Philharmonic and the City of Savannah’s Department of Cultural Affairs, it features music and an opportunity to picnic for prizes in Forsyth Park. This year’s event will be Oct. 8.

The concert will commemorate Hollywood’s contributions to popular music with noted scores performed by the Savannah Philharmonic, including music from the James Bond film series and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Two guests from the Savannah Theatre, Gretchen Stelzer and Bill Stelzer, will also sing “Phantom of the Opera.”

“The theme is ‘Lights Camera MUSIC,’” says Savannah Philharmonic artistic director and conductor Peter Shannon. “It’s an homage to the silver screen. This one is going to be music-heavy. We’ll do a great medley of the best of John Williams’ music. That’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The concert will be presented in two parts. The Philharmonic takes the stage at 7 p.m.

“We’ve got a great arrangement of songs people are going to enjoy,” Shannon says. “We have some nice classical music in the first half.”

The event also will serve as a celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month by featuring pre-concert performances by students from Savannah Classical Academy’s Strings Conservatory, Savannah High School Band and the Garrison School of Visual and Performing Arts.

Also participating will be the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division Color Guard. The 3rd ID will provide their salute cannons as part of the program.

“We have military involvement and educational involvement, and a lot of schools take part,” Shannon says.

This year’s Hollywood theme, “Lights Camera MUSIC,” was chosen through a Facebook contest. The winner, Lucinda Shultz, will be awarded premiere seating at Picnic in the Park and four tickets to the family matinee of the Philharmonic’s Holiday Pops performance in December.

Just as last year, the Philharmonic will present Tchaikovsky’s wildly popular 1812 Overture, complete with cannon fire.

“We’re actually ending the concert with it as the last piece before the encores,” Shannon says. “We’re lucky to have howitzers from Fort Stewart, so we’ll go out with a bang.”

As always, attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic and participate in the Hollywood-themed picnic table contest. The first-, second- and third-place winners will win $500, $250 and $100 Parker’s cards. Those who are interested in competing in the contest can register at the event. Judging will take place during the first half of the concert.

The musicians have as much fun presenting the show as the audience does listening to it, Shannon says.

“I know I’m looking forward to it, too,” he says. “It’s a massive event. We had 18,000 people attend last year. It seems to be growing, not getting smaller.

“The cannons excited a lot of people last year,” Shannon says. “Those who missed last year will want to come out, and those who came will want to come back.”

Best of all, the event is free.

“Pick your own spot and have a picnic,” Shannon says. “It’s certainly one of Savannah’s biggest events.

“It might be topped by St. Patrick’s Day and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, but there’s no one cultural event that’s bigger than Picnic in the Park,” he says. “It’s something clearly everyone enjoys.”

After being presented for more than 30 years, the event has established a permanent place for itself in Savannah.

“Picnic in the Park represents a huge opportunity for everyone to come out and enjoy this fantastic orchestra with family and friends under a starry night,” Shannon says. “We are always very careful to try and have something in the program for everyone, for the students who love classical music, to the kids who love music from the movies, to the Army veteran who likes to sing along to ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ with almost 20,000 others.

“This isn’t lost to us on stage. The Savannah Philharmonic puts as much energy and spirit into this concert as we do in the biggest symphonies of the season.

“This year will be no exception,” he says. “Come join us for moments of serenity, excitement and beauty, but don’t relax for too long. When the 1812 Overture begins, be ready for those cannons.”

IF YOU GO

What: Picnic in the Park

When: 3:30-9 p.m. Oct. 8

Where: Forsyth Park

Cost: Free

Info: 912-232-6002, savannahphilharmonic.org

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