After 15 years of hosting the Rhode Island Philharmonic in concert at Academy Field for Summer’s End, the Summer's End organization has contracted with the Navy Band to perform in 2012. In addition, there will be fireworks.
According to Summer’s End president Russell Knight, a Navy man himself, the decision to go with the Navy Band — more accurately, the Navy Pops Ensemble — was two-fold. First, it’s a way to celebrate East Greenwich’s place in naval history as one of the birthplaces of the U.S. Navy. Second, it’s the bicentennial of the War of 1812, when a young United States Navy fought back the very seasoned British Navy.
Knight said the Pops Ensemble is a 40-piece band that performs light classical, jazz, and Broadway music and military marches.
After four years of running in the red, Knight said, using the Navy Band, which does not charge a fee, made sense.
“We’ve lost money over the last four years. This year, we’ll be able to break even,” he said. While the R.I. Philharmonic was a big expense, there will still be other expenses, including the sound system and staging, so sponsorships and donations are still needed.
Knight said they also plan to have a local soloist to join the band for some numbers. He said the singer hasn’t been confirmed yet, but that she’s very local.
Summer’s End is known as a one-time concert but, Knight said, the organization is more than that. He noted it also provides annual art class scholarships to needy children and donates to Arts on Main and the town’s annual Graffiti Contest, as well as offering college scholarships.
Knight was referring to a few voices who’ve questioned spending town money (the town contributes $5,000) to a one-night event.
“For one night at the end of the summer," Knight said, "the town of East Greenwich shows the rest of the Rhode Island why it is such a great place to live, coming together to enjoy one another and celebrate the passing of the summer and the anticipation of a new school year. Small price with large ROI in my book.”
This year’s Summer’s End is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 31, at Eldredge Field. If you are interested in volunteering, the are looking for help taking contributions at the gate, giving out programs, etc. If you want to know more, here's their website. Donations can be sent to Summer Arts and Festival Organization, P.O. Box 1614, East Greenwich, R.I. 02818.