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Meadow Brook Music Festival celebrates 50 years

Monday, July 21, 2014
Meadow Brook Music Festival celebrates 50 years

Joshua Bell is the DSO's special guest violinist for Meadow Brook Music Festival's 50th Anniversary concert.
Oakland University, Palace Sports & Entertainment and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra are looking forward with anticipation to this summer's 50th anniversary of Meadow Brook Music Festival. 

"It's hard to believe that it was 50 years ago that the Detroit Symphony Orchestra opened Meadow Brook Music Festival on July 23, 24 and 25 with an event that featured Sixten Ehrling as conductor, Gordon Staples on violin and Italo Babini on violoncello," says Betty J. Youngblood, interim president. "This year, the DSO will be back on the evening of July 24 in celebration of the historic 50th year milestone."

This year's DSO concert features superstar violinist Joshua Bell. He enchants audiences with his charismatic stage presence and masterful performances. Known as the "poet of the violin," Bell is one of the world's most celebrated violinists. His performance at Meadow Brook Music Festival will be Detroit audiences' only chance to hear him live with the DSO this year. 

An exclusive Sony Classical artist, Bell has recorded more than 40 CDs since his first recording at age 18. He was recently named the Music Director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the first person to hold this post since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958. The Indiana native has been named an "Indiana Living Legend" and is the recipient of the Indiana Governor's Arts Award.

Conducted by Kansas City Symphony Music Director Michael Stern, the program will feature Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite," Glinka's "Ruslan and Ludmila Overture" and Kodaly's Dances of Galanta, with Bell performing Ravel's Tzigane and Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1.

Bell's performance with the DSO is made possible in part by presenting sponsor, Oakland University Credit Union, and through a generous gift from Jane and Larry Sherman. Other sponsors include the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Palace Sports & Entertainment and Oakland University.

Tickets to the show are available online at dso.org and palacenet.com, by phone at 313-576-5111 or at the Max M. Fisher Box Office at 3711 Woodward Ave. in Detroit or The Palace Ticket Store and all Ticketmaster locations. Tickets may also be charged by phone to American Express, Discover, Visa and MasterCard by calling 800-745-3000. Lawn Seats are $15 and Pavilion seats begin at $25. A limited number of lawn 4-packs will be available for $44.

50th Anniversary of Meadow Brook Music Festival

Meadow Brook Music Festival, located on the campus of Oakland University, opened in 1964 on property originally owned by automotive industry pioneer John F. Dodge and donated by his widow Matilda Dodge Wilson.

In its first four seasons, Meadow Brook was the exclusive summer residence of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra until the Festival's schedule was broadened in 1968 to include ballet. By the early 1970s rock and pop concerts were added to the summer lineup.

Over the years, Meadow Brook has undergone improvements to the existing buildings and stage with expanded pavilion seating, new concessions, and an improved sound system.  Today, contemporary and rock concerts, nationally known comedians, and family events are hallmarks of the Festival's unique ambiance for all generations.

Through 2010, the DSO performed as many as eight concerts per year at Meadow Brook. The orchestra returned in 2013 with two events - Yo-Yo Ma's Goat Rodeo Sessions and George Benson's performance with the DSO, a tribute to Nat King Cole.

Photos below are courtesy of the Oakland University Kresge Library Archives staff.

Chancellor Varner greets DSO music director Sixten Ehrling at Detroit's Metropolitan Airport upon his arrival from Sweden. The maestro cancelled European conducting dates in the summer of 1964 to perform 12 concerts at Meadow Brook Music Festival.

Meadow Brook Music Festival photo from opening night July 23, 1964. More than 5,000 people attended the first show with Sixten Ehrling conducting. They performed Wagner's "Die Meistersinger Overture," Brahms' "Double Concerto in A minor" performed by Gordon Staples, violin and Ialo Babini, violoncello and Sibelius' "Symphony No.2." The original concert was repeated in 1983 for the 20th Anniversary season with Ehrling conducting and Staples and Babini reprising their performances. Photo credit: the Royal Oak Tribune.


Meadow Brook Music Festival signage for inaugural DSO concerts in 1964.