By Jared Davidson –
After an eight-year hiatus, Music in the Park will resume its annual showcase outside Dovercourt Recreation Centre on June 10. The event started as a way to give young people in the Kitchissippi area an opportunity to perform. School bands were invited to Kiwanis Park in Westboro and were given a chance to show off what they’d learned throughout the year.
But after 2010, when Westfest began to provide performance space for nearby schools and music training programs, Music in the Park became redundant.
Today, Nick Roy of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is helping build the event back into the community by holding it on one of Kiwanis Park’s most vibrant days, which includes the Westboro Garage Sale and a groundbreaking ceremony for Dovercourt’s new addition.
“Too often, at a formal concert, it’s only family and friends that show up,” he says. “I can say from experience as a musician that it’s very exciting and gratifying to think that there are new people getting the opportunity to hear your music.”
For Nick, that was what was special about Music in the Park: the opportunity to play for strangers. And while Westfest had plenty of strangers, they were not always willing to listen to local youngsters perform on the way to the Sloan concert.
He would know. Nick was once a Music in the Park performer himself, and his vision of the event harkens back to the original idea first championed in part by John Rapp, Executive Director of Dovercourt.
“A long time ago a local mom, Carol Lahey, mentioned to me that it was a shame that the whole community didn’t get a chance to see and hear the fabulous musical talent in our local schools,” says John. “We took that as a challenge and Music in the Park was born! It is so cool that one of the kids that performed in that event has grown up, is now a music teacher, and decided that it needs to come back.”
Music in the Park is the main event, not a sideshow, and the children are centre stage. This year’s lineup includes Woodroffe High School, Nepean High School, the National Capital Concert Band, and the Ottawa Junior Jazz Band, as well as FivePlusOne, a band out of the Rock University program at the Bluesfest School of Music and Art. That’s a lot of bands to fit in, so the event will begin at 12:30 p.m. The biggest draw – besides the performers of course – will be the chance to spend a few hours in a park, surrounded by friendly people, just listening to music. It certainly beats a stuffy auditorium.
“I was hoping to go with a smaller, intimate feel this year compared to the street-side festivals of recent years along Richmond Road,” says Nick. “With the audience getting the chance to relax on the grass and enjoy some great tunes, I’m hoping that the setup will be ideal for drawing the audience in closer to listen!”
If this iteration of Music in the Park is anything like those seen years ago, it’ll be a nice afternoon and evening for the whole family.