Event remembers the “March King”
It may still be in the planning stages, but the upcoming John Philip Sousa Star Spangled Spectacular is shaping up to be a celebration unlike anything Leavenworth has ever seen.
Organizers with the Leavenworth Heritage Center are promising a great event putting a spotlight on the band leader and composer known as the "March King" by organizing a two-day event that includes a concert, parade, reception and performances by historical actors.
"There really hasn't been anything of this caliber in this town," said Scotty Brezgiel, chairwoman of the event's planning committee.
Workers with the Heritage Center, 109 Delaware St., Leavenworth, started planning the event with the goal of instilling an awareness of Sousa and his music.
Brezgiel said that Sousa was well known in Leavenworth during his time because he visited on three occasions with his traveling band - May 12, 1895; Feb. 2, 1897; and Nov. 10, 1911.
As planning continues for the event, Brezgiel said she hopes to bring the community together.
"What's fun is that we're being able to include kids in the schools, bands, museums, the downtown," she said. "Just as many people as we can."
The event will kick off April 18 with "The Times of John Philip Sousa" dinner. The dinner will be at 6:30 p.m. at the center and will cost $10.
Those present will see historical performers acting out characters who would have been alive during Sousa's time. Brezgiel said this would help audience members appreciate Sousa's music by understanding the period when it was written.
The event continues at 11 a.m. on April 19 with a parade through downtown Leavenworth featuring area high school marching bands.
Following the parade, local residents and visitors are invited to eat lunch at the C.W. Parker Carousel Courtyard, which will be preparing a lunch special for the event. Brezgiel said that the afternoon would give participants a great opportunity to stop in at many of the local museums and shops throughout Leavenworth.
At 4 p.m. the main event begins as the official John Philip Sousa Concert will be presented in the Warren Middle School auditorium.
Conducting the performance will be Robert Foster. He is a nationally acclaimed band conductor who taught at KU for more than 30 years. Foster is the vice president of the John Philip Sousa Foundation and is know for his portrayal of Sousa with his Sousa Band.
"This is a really unique opportunity for folks to hear this great music," Brezgiel said.
When meeting with Foster in preparation of the event, Brezgiel said, she came to realize that the concert, such as the one she was organizing, has only been done four times by Foster. His band will be dressed in period clothing adding to the experience that Brezgiel said is a "highly acclaimed program."
Tickets for the events will range in price with adult tickets costing $10 and student tickets costing $5. There will also be a "Patron" pass, which costs $100, that will include two tickets to the Sousa concert as well as entrance to a reception at 6:30 p.m. following the concert. A "Corporate" pass is available for $1,000 for local businesses and those will receive as many tickets to the concert and reception as desired.
All proceeds from the event will go back to the Heritage Center to continue renovations that have been in the works since the building was purchased in 2005.
For more information about the John Philip Sousa Star Spangled Spectacular event or to purchase tickets, call the Heritage Center at 682-2122.