September 4, 2012 in City

Tradition triumphs

Spokane Symphony concert ‘a gift to the community’
By The Spokesman-Review
Tyler Tjomsland photoBuy this photo

Former violinist Dorothy Peacock, 90, of Coeur d’Alene, smiles at Katie Smith, 9, as she tunes a violin at an instrument petting zoo held by Hoffman Music before the start of a free concert by the Spokane Symphony on Monday at Comstock Park on Spokane’s South Hill. Smith has only been playing three years but caught the attention of Peacock, who was all smiles.
(Full-size photo)

Thousands of people packed picnics and set up lawn chairs this Labor Day for the Spokane Symphony at Comstock Park.

“It’s really a gift to the community,” symphony spokeswoman Annie Matlow said of the free concert. “It’s a concert where we get to play some great music, where people can come out and have a great time.”

The concert, which was held Monday for the 27th time, drew an enthusiastic crowd, with many arriving hours before the music started to stake out good spots.

Matlow said it is “very much a tradition.”

“The symphony is just really proud to do this and we’re proud to be a part of this community and see how excited people get,” she said. “When we didn’t have it, there was a great deal of disappointment.

The symphony, led by conductor Eckart Preu, played a variety of music, from traditional favorites such as “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the “1812 Overture,” to songs such as the “NBC NFL Football Themes” and “World of Warcraft,” based on the online multiplayer role-playing game.

The concert marks the unofficial end of summer and the beginning of the symphony’s new season.

“It gives us a really neat chance to play some light and fun things, but also to show what’s coming,” she said. “We always kind of tease the season a bit.”

In 2010, the concert didn’t take place due to a lack of funding, but Sterling Savings Bank provided a grant to ensure the show would go on for three years, starting in 2011. Matlow said the cost of the concert is about $30,000.

Spokane resident Peter Mayer has come to the concert every year since its inception and said he was “terribly disappointed” the year it didn’t take place.

“It’s been a tradition ever since it started,” he said. “I love it. The weather is always spectacular, the crowd is friendly and the music is fabulous. And it’s free.”

This story has been edited to correct an error in the sixth paragraph.

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