Patricia D. Conrad, artistic director and conductor of the Valley Choral Society, leads the group in concert at Pennsburg United Church of Christ. The performance was one of some 30 given throughout Friday's "Make Music Upper Perk" day.
“Make Music Upper Perk”
No matter what the variety, music, in all its shapes and forms, has been making people happy since the beginnings of civilization.
And that, said Susan Royer, is exactly the aim of Make Music Upper Perk, a music festival held across the Upper Perkiomen Valley Friday.
“It’s really about celebrating music,” Royer, the event’s co-founder, said. “We’re really excited about just creating good things. Music is something that makes us happy.”
Make Music Upper Perk, in its inaugural year, has its origins in France’s music festival, Fête de la Musique, which started in 1981. That event, featuring free, outdoor street performances and concerts by amateur and professional musicians alike, eventually caught on across the globe and is now celebrated in more than 30 countries. It is also known as World Music Day.
Traditionally held on the first day of summer, it encourages musicians to take to the streets to share their talents with their communities.
“Even if you are making music on your front porch, that counts,” Royer noted. “It’s about enjoying each other and enjoying music.”
Cathy Sweeney is the driving force behind Upper Perk’s event, which was co-sponsored by her blog, ValleyArtsScene, and FAME (Families Advancing Music Education).
“I thought this would be a really fun event for our area,” she said. “Once word got out, the community was really supportive; everyone was really excited right away. We have so many great, talented musicians here and it’s also a way to bring people out to places like the library (Upper Perkiomen Valley) and the Schwenkfelder (Heritage Center and Library).”
What also made it special, especially for its first year, was the amount of enthusiasm and time dedicated by about 20 volunteers, including Royer and her daughter, Ariel Royer, who recruited performers and took to social media outlets for publicity, among other duties.
Additional volunteers did everything from setting up signs with balloons marking performance venues and sound systems, to serving as site hosts.
Sweeney said this year’s event showcased about 100 musicians, from ages 6 on up to senior citizens. It also covered a multitude of musical styles from folk to bluegrass to rock.
Performance sites included Java Good Day Café in East Greenville, the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center, Pennsburg United Church of Christ, and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church gazebo, all in Pennsburg, and the Upper Perkiomen Valley Library in Red Hill.
Starting at Java Good Day Café at 9:30 a.m., Taylor and Sydney Winner of Barto took a turn at showcasing their piano skills.
“I’m proud of them,” said their mom, Dian, who, with the girls’ grandfather, took a seat upfront to support the 10- and 13-year-olds. “I do think this is something [that will help promote the arts in the community].”
At the Upper Perkiomen Valley Library, Jon Dale of Hereford Township showcased his handmade banjos, one made from wood from his barn and groundhog skin. After giving a brief history on one of the only “true American instruments,” he passed around several of the banjos and let the children get hands-on.
“Kids have that sense of wonder, which by the time they graduate is gone,” he said. “To hold a musical instrument has much more of an impact than ever hearing one. I am planting a seed.
“I am good at some things and not good at others, but I’d just as soon pass these things along,” he explained.
Celtic harpist Casey Haughin wowed audiences with her soothing, soulful melodies and the unique sounds of mountain and hammered dulcimers, played by Nancy Shroeder and Connie Landis, were appreciated by an audience of young and old.
The country western music of singer/songwriter Bob Grover, bluegrass and rock Shoddy Hallow Ramblers and the harmony of the all-female band Peregrine proved to be favorites, but the public also turned out for amateur individual performers, an old-fashioned hymn sing and groups like the Valley Choral Arts Society.
Make Music Upper Perk drew to a close with an open-mike karaoke session at Java Good Day from 9:30-11 p.m.
“It was exhilarating,” said Ariel Royer of the festival and performances. “With how many performers we had and the public really turned out for performances, especially at night. We had a packed house at Java Good Day. It was a success and we are definitely planning to organize it again next year.”
For more information on Make Music Upper Perk, visit valleyartscene.wordpress.com, e-mail email@example.com, or visit them on Facebook at facebook.com/MakeMusicUpperPerk.