Roseland Cottage concert a summer delight

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Woodstock - posted Tue., Jul. 19, 2011
Big Band bass player Chuck Gendrich shows Ethan Adams his instrument. Photos by D. Coffey.
Big Band bass player Chuck Gendrich shows Ethan Adams his instrument. Photos by D. Coffey.

The Woodstock Recreation Commission and Roseland Cottage co-sponsored a “Twilight Concert” on the Roseland Cottage grounds July 15. The 15-piece Little Big Band brought its repertoire of swing, Big Band and jazz to a crowd of more than 300 people.

The event would have pleased the original owner of Roseland Cottage, Henry C. Bowen, according to Amanda Manso, head gardener at the historic property. Bowen built the summer house in 1840 and the famous parterre garden in 1850. He was so famous for throwing parties that President Ulysses S. Grant came to a one when he was the sitting president, Manso said.

“Henry Bowen was a huge partier,” she said. “His Fourth of July parties got so big, he had to purchase a separate piece of property to hold them.” That property became known as Roseland Park.

At the recent summer concert, guests brought lawn chairs and blankets and set themselves up in a semicircle around the band. Ninety-year-old Donald Shaw and his wife, Nancy, staked out a spot beneath a tree. They nibbled on sliced Asiago cheese and crackers while listening to the music.

Shaw was already a fan of Big Band music, but the outdoor concert and the beautiful summer evening made it even better. “It's fantastic,” Shaw said. “The vocalist is terrific. I'm amazed.”

“It’s what makes Woodstock so great,” said Paul Manso. “The town is steeped in tradition.”

Eleven-year-old Jacob Murphy sat on a bench reading “The Voyage of Slaves,” by Brian Jacques. It wasn't that he didn't like the music. “I love it,” he said. “But I love reading, so I brought my book.” His family sat on the lawn closer to the band.

Pamela Lomerson came from Dayville to hear the concert. “The band sounds really together,” she said as the band played “Tuxedo Junction.” “The vocalist is lovely,” she added.

Some children danced in the grass in front of the band, while others took more delight in walking through the boxwood hedge paths of the parterre garden with their parents or grandparents.

The last song was a melancholic “Summertime.” The living was indeed easy at Roseland that evening, but few wanted the music or the perfect summer night to stop. 

Woodstock will hold two more concerts in the “Twilight Concert” series. The Windham Concert Band will perform on July 22. Sweet Daddy Cool Breeze will perform on Aug. 13. The concerts are free and begin at 7 p.m.

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