UMC’s Summer Music Festival helps develop young musicians

PHOTO PROVIDED Students of the Uptown Music Collective are excited to showcase their skills at the upcoming Summer Music Festival.

Few things make for a nicer summer outing than an afternoon chock-full of music, food, raffles and family fun.

Next week, all of these will be merging in the city for the 18th year in a row, as the annual Uptown Music Collective Summer Music Festival is set to take place on July 28, at the Brandon Park Bandshell.

Though the festival has seen some changes through the years, its core goal has remained the same — flooding the park with high-quality live music for all ages.

“It started as an opportunity for our students to present one of their annual student showcases in a large outdoor venue. Brandon Park is one of the most beautiful city parts I’ve seen, and it’s a thrill for all of our students to have the chance to fill it with music,” said Uptown Music Collective founder and executive director Dave Brumbaugh. “Over the years, the event has grown and changed into what we now call the Uptown Music Collective Summer Music Festival, which still includes student showcases involving our younger and less experienced students, alongside our Community Performance Groups and Special Performance Groups.”

With the event starting out as a way to facilitate UMC’s student showcases, in which younger and beginner-level students perform songs of their choosing in full-band arrangements, that aspect still serves as the primary focus of the day. Most students spend months preparing themselves for the opportunity to play before the community.

“Our student showcases are always an exciting time for the Collective,” said UMC assistant director Jared Mondell. “It’s a chance for everyone to check out the upcoming talent at the Collective.”

With regular performances being a key component of UMC’s tiered approach to music education, Brumbaugh says that showcases like the one at the Summer Music Festival help evolve students from awkward beginners to seasoned performers.

“These regular performances engage our students, inspire them to work hard and clearly demonstrate their growth,” Brumbaugh said. “They all look forward to riding the scary rollercoaster of live performance, and the kindness of our community audiences goes a long way to building their confidence.”

According to Brumbaugh, the last two years have seen some of the biggest crowds in the festival’s history, which is something he couldn’t be happier about.

“The community response has continued to grow over the years,” Brumbaugh said. “We are extremely grateful for the continued support of the community for our performance events. Without that undying support, our organization would not be able to offer our students the exceptional educational and high-impact performance opportunities we do each year.”

Aside from the student showcase, the Summer Music Festival also will bring some members of UMC’s heralded Special Performance Group 1 to the stage for a one-time performance entitled “UMC’s Summer Soul Revue,” in which Motown classics from artists like The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and The Jackson 5 will be played.

Along with that, those who show up can expect plenty of food on-hand, as several vendors are expected to set up camp for the afternoon. Not to mention, there will be a raffle for a brand new electric guitar, which will be given away before the event draws to a close.

Though it may seem like an easy thing to pull together, Brumbaugh credited the Uptown staff for making the festival look seamless.

“We have a very experienced staff that pulls off many large events each year. Our technical director Willi Ort is very experienced and handles the majority of the details of these events,” said Brumbaugh. “He is supported by the rest of our staff, the student leadership and the students themselves. In the end, the team makes it all look easy.”