Janesville70°

Music will return for July 4th concert

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Kathleen Foody
June 25, 2009
— It wouldn't be the Fourth of July without fireworks, a hot grill and patriotic music.

When the Beloit Janesville Symphony canceled its annual concert, a former member was determined to keep the music playing.


"It's very important to keep traditions alive, and this one was an integral part of the community," Jeff Suarez said.


The Rock Prairie band and orchestra will step in with a concert at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 3 in Lower Courthouse Park.


Suarez played French horn in the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra from 2001-05 and became involved with the Rock Prairie Orchestra when he began teaching at UW-Rock County in 2002.


Many members of the group also play in the BJS and readily agreed to perform, he said.


"We're hopeful the symphony can right their ship," he said. "(The July concert) has always been their largest concert as far as attendance goes from my own experience and always has been a free concert, although it costs the symphony a fair amount to put on."


The groups offered to perform the next day in Beloit, but the city had already made plans with the Beloit Memorial High School jazz band.


"We approached the band to perform at our July Fourth event," said Therese Oldenburg with Visit Beloit. "They've won many awards and are very high quality."


Beloit's event begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Harry Moore Pavilion in Riverside Park.


The Rock Prairie band and orchestra usually play separately but are uniting to carry on the symphony's tradition in Janesville.


"Think of us as maybe the B' team in a major league ball club," said band member Scott Kjornes of Janesville.


Admission is free, but donations are welcome. Half the money collected will go to the BJS.


BJS office manager Melinda Schumacher said the symphony couldn't afford the $18,000 necessary to put on the concert this year. Advertisers and sponsors were providing less funding in the struggling economy.


"With a professional orchestra and all that we pay them, when things get tough that had to be first thing to go," she said. "But we're going to try to find a different formula."



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