Concerts on the Square v. 2022

Greetings everyone,

Welcome to a new edition of Traveling With Tom. I’m back after a five-week hiatus, my first since I started writing this weekly blog in November 2015. My Traveling Partner and I had a lovely, adventurous time in Door County, Wisconsin. Beginning next week, you’ll see photos and read narrative about Door County, a place of beauty, charm, and calm.

350th Blog Post!

My friends, this post is my three hundred and fiftieth! As I ‘ve mentioned in previous milestone posts, this is the longest I’ve stuck with anything in my adult life. My usual process is to start something with great energy and enthusiasm, then six months later get bored and move onto something else. However, a bit of guilt of not finishing what I started sticks in my mind. Not this time! I’ve come to understand that writing is an unending endeavor, once started there isn’t end point, just another story to tell until one abandons the project, or dies while writing. So far, I have not experienced either of these so please stick with me until the end!

Concerts on the Square

When our family moved to Madison thirty-five years ago this month, we thought we’d stay a few years then move back to North Dakota where we came from. Happily, it was not to be. We came to love Madison and chose to settle here. One of the many things that kept is the Concerts on the Square. For six Wednesday evenings (Thursday is the rain date), the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra with its string, brass, and percussion ensembles, entertain the crowd with classical and pop music. This year one of the weekly concerts featured tunes from Motown. Another week feature songs and dances from the Ho-Chunk Nation. Mix that with a dose of classical composition and you have something for everyone!

Each week, an estimated 15,000 to 25,000 people spread their blankets on the Capitol lawn or set up chairs on the street to listen to the evening’s selections.

While the orchestra plays, the attendees munch on their dinner brought from home or purchased at the food vendors set up around the Capitol Square. Wine bottles are uncorked and beer cans opened to wash down their nourishments. Quiet conversation (proper etiquette is to refrain from loud talking while the Orchestra is performing) with friends and family ensues while others read or people watch. When the concert ends, many linger to soak up the atmosphere as the sun begins to set and to avoid the exiting traffic. It’s always over too soon, this respite from the busyness of the day.

We went to our first Concerts in the summer of 1988 and have been attending ever since when we are in town. We were working then so would rush home from work, quick pack a picnic, load the kids in the car, and head downtown. Now days, we toss a couple of bag chairs and a collapsable table in the trunk, and purchase food and beverages from one of the vendors. 

Since we were out of town for the first five concerts, we were anxious to attend the last concert of the season on Thursday evening (threatening weather postponed from Wednesday). It was a beautiful evening, starting off on the warm side but cooling down to reasonable temps as the evening wore on. We found a spot in the safest place possible-by the police car and ambulance! The paramedics on duty had a relaxing evening, handing out a few bandaids. Later in the evening, a young fella brought the attendants each a dish of ice cream as thank you for their service. A very nice gesture.

One of the new features added to the Concerts are a  couple of Jumbotrons so attendees can see as well as hear the performance. This is a great addition to an already excellent evening.

The evening’s performance featured one of the leading bassists, Xavier Foley. He played his original concerto, Soul Base for Double Bass and Orchestra. His performance was quite stirring and well received by the crowd. 

Even the dogs loved the music, they were so mellow waiting for their people to take them home.

During the concert, I wandered through the crowd to document the evening. Here’s a few of the many photos I took.

At the end of the concert, the Orchestra played John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever. It was fun to watch the people leaving early, march to the beat of the music while we tapped our toes.

Hope you enjoyed this view of the Concerts on the Square. We can’t wait until next year when the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra will celebrate its 40th anniversary of free concerts on the Capitol Square. Thanks to all the program sponsors, we see you!

Join me next week for the beginning of a series of posts from Door County.

Until then, happy travels!




2 thoughts on “Concerts on the Square v. 2022

  1. Tom,
    I always enjoy your posts and this one was special. I moved back to Madison in 1988 and attended many concerts over the years. Alas I now live in Minnesota so the concerts are less available to me now. I didn’t make one this year but there’s always next year.

    1. Nice to hear from you. As I said in the article, it’s one of our favorite things to do in Madison. Take care.

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