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 Akropolis Reed Quintet performs classical music on the porch in the Cranberry Lake Farm Historic District during the 2017 concert series.

Akropolis Reed Quintet performs classical music on the porch in the Cranberry Lake Farm Historic District during the 2017 concert series.

Photo provided by Oakland Township Parks and Recreation

Music in the Meadows hits a high note this summer

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 5, 2019


OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Families and friends can unwind in two township parks this summer to enjoy the sounds of bluegrass, folk and classical music.

The 14th annual Music in the Meadows series, hosted by Oakland Township Parks and Recreation, will supply free Friday night concerts June 7, July 12 and Aug. 16 in two different parks.

“We like to think of this concert series as a cut above your average music in the park,” said Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Manager Becky McLogan. “We really take the time to do research, and we’ve had several Grammy Award winners perform at our series.”

Former township residents Dave and Ann Strubler, who currently serve as the music advisers for the series, first brought the idea for the series to township officials 14 years ago.

“We noticed that most communities — including Rochester, Lake Orion and Oxford — had summer music programs, and we also noticed that very few people were using the beautiful parks in Oakland Township — now this was 14 years ago — because they didn’t really know about them, so we thought, ‘Why not bring those two things together?’” he said.

Ann Strubler, a former first violinist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for 30 years, and her husband pitched the idea of holding three “high-caliber” concerts a year in June, July and August.

“We wanted to do higher-end shows with top-notch professionals coming in. So, instead of spending our money on weekly shows for, say, 12 weeks, we could do the three shows and bring in top acts,” said Dave Strubler.

Township officials immediately approved the idea for the series, which has since grown in popularity, drawing an average of 300 people per show.

“The concerts are for anyone, not just township residents. Anyone can go,” said Dave Strubler. “You just bring your lawn chairs and a picnic, if you like — but there is no alcohol allowed because they are in public parks.”

The 2019 concert series kicks off June 7 with the bluegrass sounds of the Larry Stephenson Band at Bear Creek Nature Park, 740 Snell Road, between Orion and Rochester roads. The evening includes free archery before the concert, beginning at 5 p.m.

The next month, crowds can enjoy acoustic American folk music from Kittel & Co. at 7 p.m. July 12 at Bear Creek Nature Park. Kittel & Co. includes mandolin player Josh Pinkham, guitarist Quinn Bachand, and Grammy Award-nominated violinist and composer Jeremy Kittel.  

“At the age of 12, (Kittel) won the Scottish fiddling championship. He beat everyone in Scotland, all the adults and everything,” Dave Strubler said.

Free archery will be offered before the July 12 concert, beginning at 5 p.m.

Wrapping up the series, the Cranberry Lake Farm Historic District will host Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings — which includes members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Michigan Opera Theatre — at 7 p.m. Aug. 17.

“It’s a beautiful setting, and the musicians perform right on the porch,” McLogan said.

People can arrive early for tours of the Cranberry Lake Farm Historic District and the restored historical Axford Coffin farmhouse. The 16-acre historical district — located within the 213-acre Cranberry Lake Park — is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The concerts are funded via the Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Department Fund, which McLogan said is supported via an approved millage.

“We’ve been successful for 14 years and supported by the township,” she said.

In case of inclement weather, concerts will be held at Rochester Christian Church, located at 4435 N. Rochester Road. Call (248) 651-4440, ext. 299, on the day of the event to verify the concert location.