Franklin Symphonic Council plans diverse outdoor concert series

The gentle lilt of flute, clarinet and oboe will dance through the evening air like a butterfly.

Under the setting June sun, the Indiana Wind Symphony brings together saxophone and trombone with the deep sounds of tuba and bassoon. Without the percussion and string instruments to overwhelm, the music floats on the breeze — perfectly matching the idyllic setting on Franklin College’s outdoor mall.

To match the pleasant setting, the symphony plans to have a lively selection of music to keep the audience enthralled.

“In our concerts, we try to cover the entire scope of wind music, from the original wind serenades of Mozart up to world-premieres of new pieces from all kinds of ensembles,” said Charles Conrad, director of the Indiana Wind Symphony. “We pretty much try to run the gamut of everything in between.”

The Franklin Symphonic Council is bringing orchestral music to Johnson County with a series of six concerts this summer, starting on June 9. Held outdoors on Franklin College’s campus, the events aim to expose audiences to different styles of music, such as brass bands and barbershop.

If nothing else, the concerts are a way for people to spend a night listening to some of the area’s most talented musicians, all for free.

“The symphonic council’s mission is to provide musical opportunities for the community, as well as education for kids,” said Eric DeForest, assistant professor of music at Franklin College and vice president of the Franklin Symphonic Council. “We decided that it would be great in the summer to provide a free concert series to showcase some of the area talent.”

A concert series fits directly into the mission of the Franklin Symphonic Council, an organization that promotes the participation, enjoyment and appreciation of music and the arts for both children and adults in the community.

The group provides funding so schoolchildren can attend the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, sponsor music scholarships for local students and brings arts groups to area schools. In addition, the council brings concerts to the Franklin community, sponsors the music for the city’s holiday lighting event and refurbishes used musical instruments for youth.

In 2019, they worked with Franklin officials to bring a concert series to downtown. After an abbreviated series in Province Park in 2020, organizers are ready to bring a full slate of music to Franklin College’s campus again.

“We have a pretty diverse group of performers this summer,” DeForest said. “We wanted to just kind of get out there some of these groups to give them this exposure, outside of just Indianapolis.”

Kicking the series off will be the Indiana Wind Symphony. The Carmel-based organization has about 85 musicians, with around 70 musicians playing in each performance.

The symphony has pulled together an intimate and uniquely Franklin-centric repertoire for the performance.

“We make an effort to emphasize music from the state of Indiana, and we’re definitely going to have some interesting things in that regard for this coming concert,” Conrad said.

One of the features is by R.D. Bundy, a former Franklin band director from the 1880s. “The Saint-Saëns March” takes a melody written by the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns and turns it into a march.

The wind symphony also uncovered music written by famed Indiana composer Fred Jewell. Jewell, who wrote more than 100 marches and other pieces of music, performed in a number of different circus bands and groups, eventually rising to lead the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus band. He retired from circuses in 1918 but continued leading different bands in Iowa and Indiana.

From 1926 to 1927, Jewell lived in Franklin.

“He directed at the Masonic Home, and was the director at that time of the Murat Temple Band in Indianapolis,” Conrad said. “Just in the past couple of years, we have discovered 18 never-performed pieces in Jewell’s handwriting, which were never published. We’ll be doing one of those in Franklin, ‘The Dignitary.'”

The rest of the concert will be filled with an eclectic blend of traditional band music with some more modern selections, such as “Penny Lane” by the Beatles.

With the Indiana Wind Symphony setting the tone for the concert series, each week will feature a different stop along the musical spectrum.

Listen to the Crossroads Brass Band, a British-style brass performing group based in Johnson County. Leaders of a number of different local jazz bands join forces in the Director’s Jazz Orchestra, which includes all types of jazz in its repertoire. Indy Winds Flute Choir is a collection of talented flutists, while Carol & Company Trio brings together the sounds of flute, cello and piano.

The final concert of the series, on July 14, will be by beloved local barbershop chorus the Chordlighters.

“We thought it was a nice mix,” DeForest said. “Some of those are our favorite groups that we’ve worked with the past, and some are new.”

All of the concerts are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be available to purchase from food trucks on site, and people are encouraged to bring out lawn chairs or blankets to spread out under the stars.

“It’s really important to do this, because it really feeds into our mission to bring some unique cultural activities to Franklin,” DeForest said.

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Franklin Symphonic Council Summer Concert Series

Concerts held at the ellipse at the center of Franklin College’s campus. Shows run from 7 to 8:15 p.m.

June 9: Indiana Wind Symphony

June 16: Crossroads Brass Band

June 23: Director’s Jazz Orchestra

June 30: Indy Winds Flute Choir

July 7: Carol & Company Trio

July 14: Chord Lighters