Oak Brook Park District concert series in 30th year
The sun sets on the July 12 performance by the Decatur Park Singers in Oak Brook. | Joe Cyganowski~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 17, 2012 1:58AM
OAK BROOK — The Oak Brook Park District is celebrating the 30th year of its Music in the Park summer concert series.
The series premiered June 17, 1982, at Central Park with the Chicago Chamber Brass and included six concerts in its first year. Other first-year performances were by Unicorn Mime Ensemble, Special Consensus Bluegrass Band, DuPage Symphony Orchestra, Great Lakes Naval Band and Golden’s Big Band Express.
In 1983, local architect Jim Smith suggested a gazebo-type structure be constructed to host the concerts. The Park Board agreed, believing the park district needed to offer a greater variety of programming outside of athletics. The board also thought a gazebo could house musical and theater events. An Addison gazebo inspired the original design.
“The concerts are a place people can come and enjoy a variety of good music in a nice setting,” Park District Executive Director Laure Kosey said. “You can come out and have a picnic if you want; it’s like a mini-Ravinia. It’s also free, and there aren’t many free things like this in the area.”
Kosey said series performers are chosen based on input from those who attend the concerts.
“We do a survey to find out what people like and want to see, and use that information when looking to schedule future concerts,” she said.
The 2012 concert series continues from 7-9 p.m. July 19 and 26, and Aug. 2 in Central Park.
The July 19 concert is with Stockwood, a tribute to the Beatles; Rhythm Rockets on July 26 is a seven-piece band that claims to present “an upbeat education in music history;” and the summer series concludes with The Chicago String Artists presented by Carl Linden, which includes music from film, Broadway plays, classical and country among its offerings.
Many of the musicians in The Chicago String Artists were part of an orchestra directed by Franz Benteler, who performed at the Oak Brook concert series 19 times. The last performance by Benteler was in 2005; he retired in 2007 and died in 2010.