There is ballet and rock and roll. There is the opera and the Tamburitzans.
This eclectic program is only found in one place, and it is there year after year, summer after summer.
The Allegheny County summer concert series, which continues through Labor Day weekend at the South Park Amphitheater and Hartwood Acres Park Amphitheater, is a regional tradition – and its outdoor location makes it particularly attractive as COVID-19 lingers.
Local musician and county director of special events Bill Deasy has been running the series for 11 years.
âOur goal is: something for everyone,â he says.
He believes the series started in the 1970s, but the lineup was not as consistent in the early years. Today, shows are held every weekend from June 1 through Labor Day – every Friday at South Park and every Sunday at Hartwood Acres.
All concerts are free, and this year food trucks and Hop Farm Brewing Company craft beer will be available at all concerts.
Deasy says certain acts are on the program each year, such as the Pittsburgh Opera, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. The rest of the program is filled with local and national acts.
âEven for national numbers, we try to get a local number to be the opening slot,â he says. “We are always trying to draw attention to our amazing local talent.”
This month, Spin Doctors, of 90s radio hits, will perform at Hartwood Acres on August 29. Local act Gene the Werewolf will debut.
Gene the Werewolf guitarist Drew Donegan said the band, who have been together since 2007, had already opened for Blue Oyster Cult in 2015 in South Park; they eagerly agreed when Deasy invited them to come back this year. The performance in 2015 introduced Donegan to the series, and he says the experience was a pleasant surprise.
âI had never been to one of them before, and it opened the eyes of the audience it attracts,â he says. âIt’s all walks of life.
âBoth spaces are magnificent. Especially for a band like ours which is usually captured in dirty nightclubs, it’s fun to be outside in our beautiful parks and perform in front of this large audience, âhe says.
The Pittsburgh Ballet Theater has long attracted the series, and they were no strangers to outdoor performances, even during the pandemic.
Last summer, just after Susan Jaffe took over as artistic director but even before moving to town, the Ballet suggested a performance at Hartwood Acres where social distancing could be easily practiced.
“I was like ‘it’s the middle of summer, in the middle of the trees’ and all of a sudden I thought [of] âA Midsummer Night’s Dream,â she recalls.
The informal open-air venue was a beautiful venue for the ballet, Jaffe says, but for this year’s concert series on August 22 the troupe will be back on stage.
The show will include four works: the last act of the classical Russian ballet “Paquita”, a contemporary piece by Kyle Abraham, a world premiere by Helen Pickett and a group work entitled “Napoli”, which Jaffe describes as a “great celebration of ‘frolics’ centered on the inhabitants of the Italian city.
âAt Hartwood Acres, this performance has over 1,000 people sitting on the lawn, and they’re there with their families and kids and they’re having picnics, so we wanted to have an uplifting program,â she says.
The ballet recently wrapped up a series of outdoor performances on Flagstaff Hill, and it seemed like a return to normal.
âWe danced without masks, and a lot of people on the lawn didn’t have masks, and you could just feel the gratitude,â Jaffe says. “People are so happy to be back and looking at the art and being together again.”
Deasy says he feels a heightened sense of appreciation this year.
âYou can’t reproduce the feeling of being with other people while listening to music. “
South Park Amphitheater
3700 Farmshow Drive, Township of South Park
August 6: The spinners
August 13: Connie low cut
August 20: Spyro Gyra
August 27: Shayna Steele
September 3: Tamburitzans
Hartwood Acres Park Amphitheater
4070 middle path,
August 1: medium white band
August 8: The Jayhawks
August 15: The Wood brothers
August 22: Pittsburgh Ballet Theater
August 29: Spin Doctors
September 5: Allegheny County Music Festival with The Commonheart
All concerts are free and start at 7:30 p.m., with the exception of the Music Festival. For this event, a requested donation of $ 20 per vehicle benefits the Allegheny County Social Services Department. The festival begins with the opening of groups at 5:00 pm; The Commonheart takes
the stage at 8 p.m.