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Arts and Entertainment

Metro Parks band plays to the trees, trails and fans
The all-volunteer ensemble has been playing for a decade.

Mark Urycki
The Summit Metro Parks Ensemble is an all-volunteer band that plays year round.
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In The Region:

In Europe, it’s not uncommon to find a village – or even a company - brass band.  A British coal mine band was depicted in the 1996 movie “Brassed Off."

Ohio has a handful of community bands and citizen orchestras. But there is one group you might hear while hiking through the woods. The Summit County Metro Parks Ensemble is an all-volunteer group that plays Tuesday evening in the parks.

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The Metro Parks Ensemble doesn’t need a band shell or a stage or electricity. It just sets up its chairs and music stands on the grass somewhere and suddenly people on the trails hear the melodies of say, “Oklahoma” wafting through the trees. 

Every Tuesday evening at 7 this summer, the band has been performing patriotic, Broadway, big band, and Americana music.  Karen Barnett is director of the ensemble, which has been around for about 10 years. She says it has 29 volunteer members, not all from Summit County.

"We have just gathered them up as we’ve gone. Right now we are sort of at our max because when we go out to a place like assisted living we don’t want to be any bigger than we are."
In age, "they range from someone graduating college to about almost 80." 

Strings as well as brass
They are called an ensemble, rather than a band,  because they aren’t just brass. They include stringed instruments.

One volunteer who has been showing up for almost a decade is Barb Jaggers of Munroe Falls.  Jaggers says she didn’t touch her clarinet after she finished college – until she found the Metro Parks Ensemble.

“This was a perfect fit. I came to the first rehearsal and I thought, 'They have no tryouts. I’ll try them out.’  And we sat down and about half way through rehearsal played a Sousa march and I thought, ‘This is my place'.”

The Summit Metro Parks Ensemble plays year round. Tonight’s concert is outdoors at Goodyear Metro Park in Akron. 

Listener Comments:

How lucky the people are to have music like this in parks.

I received this via my friend Jim seiberling who plays tuba in the Ensemble.

Posted by: George van Heerden (South Africa) on August 29, 2013 2:08AM
Thanks for your piece. They really need to get the word out. Their "Music by the Lake" concerts at the Monroe Falls Park and the concerts at Coventry Oaks are well attended but people just didn't know about the "Random Acts of Music". When they played at the Towpath Trail/ Big Bend Skating Area there was a soccer team practicing. After their practice the coach came over and thanked the group for playing.

Posted by: Alison McIntyre (Akron) on August 28, 2013 12:08PM
Just for the record, I just turned 82 years old and have been with the band since it started more than ten years ago. The band is special for me because with me in the band is my wife Mary, son Paul, son John, and John's wife Roberta. It is a great family experience.

Posted by: Bill Wilkerson on August 28, 2013 8:08AM
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