Sounds of laughter and excitement drifted up from Eagle Field. Multicolored blankets littered the grass. Pensacola Christian College families, students, and guests milled about, some with picnic baskets in tow. A stage sat at the head of the field; empty chairs waited to be taken by eager musicians. The sun, now a golden orb setting in the sky, cast rosy light on the back of Griffith Tower.
Setting the Stage
Tones hushed as undergrad and graduate student musicians dressed in black walked onto the field, took their seats, and began tuning their instruments. Notes blended with voices, charging the atmosphere with anticipation for the concert to come. All noise stopped as Mr. Josh Hutt and Mr. Jacob Van Hall, performing arts faculty and co-emcees for the event, walked up to the mic. “Good evening, and welcome to PCC’s annual Concert on the Green!” Mr. Van Hall said.
“Tonight’s concert will transport us to Europe in the late 1800s,” Mr. Hutt continued. “We’ll listen to music from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Russia, and Austria. Vienna is known as the ‘City of Music,’ and it’s here we begin our journey with the ‘Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka,’ composed by Johann Strauss II!”
Audience members clapped, and the PCCymphony dove into their first song. Wind, string, brass, and percussion instruments worked together to produce a beautiful blend of notes, enthralling listeners with the piece’s rich, high-spirited tone. The audience erupted in thunderous applause as the music faded into the background, signaling the end of the selection.
Miss Liz Thomason, an assistant for this event, has loved how students can share enjoying the concert together. “Even though Concert on the Green is an academic concert, it’s less about the music and more about the community for me,” she explained. “It is a time to relax, unwind outside, enjoy some music, and forget about the pressures of classes for an hour or so.”
Each piece transported spectators to ballrooms, concert halls, and even a battlefield. The PCCymphony ended the night with Bedřich Smetana’s “Dance of the Comedians,” a familiar melody from Looney Tunes’s Wile E. Coyote cartoons. As Concert on the Green ended, audience members dispersed, some going to congratulate the orchestra members and others staying on the field to talk about pieces they enjoyed.
“College is about so much more than academics. It’s awesome to see students taking time from their busy schedule just to slow down and enjoy life.”
Joanna Jernigan, a guest visiting PCC as a prospective student, enjoyed her outdoor concert experience. “I loved the feeling of unity from everyone gathered together enjoying the music,” she explained. “College is about so much more than academics. It’s awesome to see students taking time from their busy schedule just to slow down and enjoy life.”
Junior Sarah Burrell (NC) has looked forward to Concert on the Green each fall semester. “I’ve come to Concert on the Green since freshman year and have loved it every time,” she said. “Each year is different with different time periods and styles played. I also like how casual this event is. Fine Arts is great, but Concert on the Green is just so much more laid back.”
Behind the Scenes
Student musicians anticipate Concert on the Green each year. PCCymphony and Symphonic Band share classic favorites with their peers, and rehearsals for the concert begin early in the fall semester. “In preparation, we rehearse as a group for three hours a week,” explained Leah Sims (Sr., KS), a PCCymphony violinist. “Some of the pieces that we played were very fast, so I had to work on bringing them up to speed for the group rehearsals.”
“I have enjoyed being in [the concert] as well as being in the crowd,” Leah continued. “Hearing people enjoy the music that you’ve been working so hard on is very satisfying and makes the effort worth it.”
“Concert on the Green is always my favorite concert because we generally play very lively music or familiar tunes that have stood the test of time.”
Martha Stoltzfus (Sr., PA), another student violinist, enjoyed the fun atmosphere Concert on the Green provides students overall. “It is a more relaxed environment than an indoor concert,” she explained. “This concert is exciting for us musicians [since] we never know if the wind is going to blow our music off the stand, which adds an element of unpredictability.”
The Saturday night performance of Concert on the Green was a culmination of students’ and faculty members’ hard work. This beloved PCC tradition welcomed the cooler fall weather and allowed audience members a time of escape. “I think Concert on the Green is an event that every student should experience at least one time,” shared Miss Thomason, speaking of the event’s charm. “It heralds back to small town, music-in-the-park series, and reminds us to slow down and romanticize the beauty of moment.”