Summer concerts at Wheaton's Memorial Park Bandshell

  • The new Memorial Park Bandshell in Wheaton, completed in 2020, is set to feature concerts sponsored by the Wheaton Park District and the Wheaton Municipal Band.

    The new Memorial Park Bandshell in Wheaton, completed in 2020, is set to feature concerts sponsored by the Wheaton Park District and the Wheaton Municipal Band. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, 2020

  • The Wheaton Municipal Band is set to return to Memorial Park for a summer season of Thursday evening concerts. But due to COVID-19 protocols, the number of players and audience members will be reduced.

    The Wheaton Municipal Band is set to return to Memorial Park for a summer season of Thursday evening concerts. But due to COVID-19 protocols, the number of players and audience members will be reduced. Daily Herald File Photo, 2008

  • The Wheaton Park District's Summer Entertainment Series at the Memorial Park Bandshell opens with Dick Diamond and the Dusters (pictured) with opening act South of Disorder on Saturday, June 5.

    The Wheaton Park District's Summer Entertainment Series at the Memorial Park Bandshell opens with Dick Diamond and the Dusters (pictured) with opening act South of Disorder on Saturday, June 5. Courtesy of Dick Diamond and the Dusters

 
 
Updated 5/10/2021 7:21 PM

Live concerts are coming to Wheaton's new Memorial Park Bandshell.

Tickets recently went on sale for the Wheaton Park District's Summer Entertainment Series featuring 11 concerts and 22 acts.

 

Most concerts feature double bills of rock tribute bands such as Dick Diamond and the Dusters and South of Disorder, which headline the June 5 opening concert.

The 81-year-old Wheaton Municipal Band has also announced a nine-concert series of free classical music programs on select Thursdays starting June 10.

"We're ready to get back," said Wheaton Municipal Band Music Director Bruce Moss, who is eager to test the acoustics of the new bandshell.

The municipal band was all set to celebrate its 80th anniversary season last year in the new outdoor venue. But the coronavirus pandemic put a kibosh on that, forcing the band to create online programs of artist interviews and archival recordings for 2020.

"It was particularly perplexing because the shell had just been built," Moss said. "It was fenced off most of the summer."

This summer, the Wheaton Municipal Band plans to limit audience attendance to about 300, down from 600, to allow for proper social distancing. Masks will be required, and patrons must bring their own seating.

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Though its concerts are free, the band will require reservations. Tickets are available online starting 9 a.m. Fridays before the next Thursday night concert.

The number of onstage performers will also be pared down from about 98 to 48 per concert.

"The audience might not hear that full-sized concert band that they're used to," said oboe and English horn player Gail Sonkin, who is also vice president of the municipal band.

"For us as musicians, most times we're asked to play softer," Sonkin said. "But this year, I'm sure we'll be told to play out as loud as you want."

With rising COVID-19 vaccination rates, both organizations hope to allow more audiences in if restrictions are loosened by the Illinois Department of Public Health in the coming weeks.

"We are all so grateful to be able to play for a live audience," Sonkin said. "It's been difficult not being able to perform."

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