by Linda Queiroz
Rivaling the twinkling stars above, musical stars shine at the Ives Concert Park, a venue located on the Westside campus of Western Connecticut State University (WestConn) in Danbury, Connecticut. After experiencing an evening at the Ives, I’m sure you’ll agree that this is not your average music hall.
The park is named after Charles Ives, one of America’s first internationally renowned composers known for experimenting with modernist music. Ives was born in 1874 in Danbury, and Ives’s father, George, a Civil War-era bandmaster, encouraged his son’s musicianship. Throughout the twentieth century, Ives’ compositions gained popularity, and his compositions and musical talent partly inspired the naming of the park.
A winding gravel walkway leads you through trees and past beautifully landscaped gardens to a rustic amphitheater on a pond, fountains cascading all around. Patrons may choose reserved seats up close or bring blankets, camp chairs, and their picnic baskets for the lawn area seating. A projection screen allows a close up view of the show for those sprawled out on the vast lawn behind the reserved area. On the grounds, the atmosphere is always festive and party-like. On one summer night last year, many guests were dressed in Hawaiian shirts and leis as they waited for The Beach Boys to take the stage.
Counting Crows is opening the season with a concert on June 12. Fiona Apple has been booked for June 29, and the nationally acclaimed a cappella act who has been selling out in Atlantic City, Straight No Chaser, will be appearing on August 25.
Bookings for this summer’s season are underway. Counting Crows is opening the season with a concert on June 12. Fiona Apple has been booked for June 29, and the nationally acclaimed a cappella act who has been selling out in Atlantic City, Straight No Chaser, will be appearing on August 25. The well-attended Irish and Ecuadorian festivals will be returning to add some cultural flavor to the offerings. Additional acts will be added to the line-up throughout the next few weeks.
With nature as a backdrop, renowned artists have graced this stage for over thirty-five years. Each season the Ives strives for a diversity of musical and theatrical genres that appeal to various age groups. Whatever your taste, be it classic rock, alternative, classical, country, the blues, or rap, the Ives has it covered. Some past favorites have been The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Melissa Etheridge, B.B. King, Steve Miller Band, The Moody Blues, Cake, Willie Nelson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Kenny Loggins, Gov’t Mule, Yes, The Kinks, and Steely Dan.
In addition to the national acts, WestConn’s music and theater departments feature student productions. The Fine Arts and Family series has offered ballet, children’s shows, classical music, Shakespeare, and public radio productions. To the delight of the patrons, some of the smaller shows feature intimate seating on the stage closer to the performers.
In addition to the national acts, WCSU’s music and theater departments feature student productions. The Fine Arts and Family series has offered ballet, children’s shows, classical music, Shakespeare, and public radio productions.
The Ives Concert Park is situated on forty woodland acres and hosts 60,000 guests each season. The grounds are spotless, and the volunteer staff goes out of their way to make every guest feel welcome. The Ives is easily accessible from CT I-84 and provides ample free parking. At the gate, golf cart transport is available for handicapped patrons. Food ispermitted, but not outside beverages. Food, beverages, beer-on-tap, and wine are available for purchase. One of the concession areas has flat-screen monitors and tables, so you do not have to miss the entertainment while snacking. Tickets are reasonably priced and can be purchased online or at the door at the time of performance. When shows are not sold-out, ticket upgrades are permitted the night of the show. All performances take place rain or shine, and seating is not under cover. Come prepared with rain gear and insect repellant.
For additional information, visit Ives Concert Park on Facebook for daily updates, or ivesconcertpark.com. Now dust off that picnic basket and buy some tickets to add to your summer music soundtrack. I know I never let a summer go by without at least one visit to the Ives. See you at the show!