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Eden Hall summer concert series kicks off with Pittsburgh Festival Opera preview

| Thursday, June 14, 2018, 1:51 p.m.

Summer is here, and with it the opportunity to sit outdoors, enjoy the beauty of nature and listen to live music through the Eden Hall Summer Series at Chatham University's Gibsonia campus.

The performances take place at the Hilda M. Willis Amphitheater, which was built using the natural grade of the land to provide quality acoustics and good sight lines for audience members.

Jessica Bartko helps coordinate the Eden Hall Summer Series, and said the evening musical events are magical.

“Everything is just so beautiful here,” she said. “You can hear the wind moving through the grass and all the natural sounds, and you know that summer smell? We get that out here. It's still warm but there's often a cool breeze, and the amphitheater was built for things like this. The sound carries in really lovely ways.”

In its fifth year, the Summer Series three performances offer a variety of styles.

The first concert will be, June 23 and will feature a preview of the Pittsburgh Festival Opera's summer season. Members of the group as well as the Young Professional Artist Program will perform excerpts from Puccini's “La Bohème Warhola,” Wagner's “Rhinegold,” Richard Strauss' “Arabella,” and Bernstein on Broadway and more.

On July 14, it's jazz night, featuring the Funky Fly Project and headliners the Poogie Bell Band.

Poogie Bell is a Pittsburgh drummer, composer, arranger and producer who's worked with musicians such as Chaka Khan, Luther Vandross, Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau, David Bowie and Erykah Badu.

His son, Winston Bell, is a member of the Funky Fly Project, a local funk and jazz group that also includes Henry Schultz, Brandon Terry, and Eric Dowdell Jr. None is over the age of 19.

Finally, they'll bring back the popular bluegrass night on Aug. 4, featuring Pittsburgh-based string band the Shameless Hex, the Turpentiners and Pittsburgh favorites Lonesome, Lost,and Foggy.

Bartko said she enjoyed watching and being part of the crowd during last year's bluegrass night as much as she did the music.

“My favorite thing about it was not only the music but just looking into the amphitheater and seeing all different kinds of folks hanging out enjoying the show in their own way,” she said. “You could tell people were at home and comfortable, and I really love that.”

Everything's free and they don't collect tickets so people can just come gather and enjoy the evening.

Bring chairs, blankets or sit on the ground. Food and beverages are welcome as well (please no glass, Bartko said).

Beginning with the July performance people can pre-order picnic baskets with food prepared by the chefs on campus to enjoy while the concert is taking place.

That information should be available on the website shortly, Bartko said. For details visitchatham.edu/summerseries .

Karen Price is a freelance writer.

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