Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Meadow Brook Music Festival Keeps On A-growing

June 1966
  Jim Hicks seems to become grayer each year. It’s no wonder. As manager of the Meadow Brook Music Festival, he worries about such things as where to find 30 boys’ voices in the summer and how to get 108 musicians, 250 singers and two organs all on stage at the same time.
  Meadow Brook opens its third season tonight. The first season drew mainly local notice only. Last year it attracted national attention. This season, the name of Meadow Brook Festival and Rochester will go worldwide.
  Jim expects critics from all parts of Europe as the series goes into the eighth week when the world premieres of commissioned works will be performed. The New York Times and other newspapers will have critics here tonight. Accommodating the newsmen, keeping soloists happy and worrying about such things as $2,400 for each extra rehearsal, are all part of Jim’s job.
  Conductor Sexten Ehrling returned from a guest conducting tour of Europe last week “bubbling over with enthusiasm,” Jim reported. “He says that Meadow Brook is the best of its kind in Europe or anyplace else. Everywhere he went, he talked it up.”
  THE 100-PIECE DETROIT Symphony moved into the Howard C. Baldwin Memorial Pavilion Wednesday and Ehrling set up 7 1/2 hours of rehearsals before tonight’s concert. There will be four rehearsals a week. Finding the 30 boy singers during the summer for the seventh week performance is proving to be a tough job. Guest conductor Robert Shaw is calling for 12 rehearsals for the three nights of choral concerts that week. “With the rehearsals costing $2,400 each, the week is expected to cost $60,000 alone,” Jim declared. Festival leaders are out digging up $170,000 to break even.
  “With tickets still selling at a fantastically low price, these concerts are in reality a gift to the community,” Jim asserts. Keeping the mosquitoes away is in itself a major project. A helicopter spraying the wooded area has already made several passes and a truck lays a ground fog prior to the concerts.
  A ROAD HAS BEEN now cut through the woods and across the horse riding track to Adams Road to provide another outlet for cars heading south on Adams Rd. From Birmingham alone, 40 buses a night are leaving to carry people who hate to become involved in traffic jams themselves.
  The hill at the rear of the amphitheatre has been cut down to accommodate several thousand more lawn sitters, making the capacity of around 8,000 people. And the parking lot has been enlarged for another 1,000 vehicles.
  It was only a few months ago that there was doubt that there would be any concerts this season because of a labor dispute over orchestra wages. The decision had been made to cancel the concerts and thousands of dollars worth of guest soloist contracts that had been negotiated. The dispute is now settled. However, a strike by Detroit Edison linemen has already postponed a new lighting system for the rest of the grounds.
  It’s enough to make anybody with hair turn gray.
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  A CLOSING THOUGHT: Young couples  today face a much more dangerous world than we did. Not only do they have to worry about the bride’s first biscuits, but with the recent introduction of outdoor grills, they also have to go through the groom's first cook-out.