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 The Farmington Community Band, a 90-piece symphonic band led by Maestro Damien Crutcher, performs at the annual Stars in the Park summer concert series at the Heritage Park amphitheater in 2018. This year the band will perform as the opening act of the concert series June 13.

The Farmington Community Band, a 90-piece symphonic band led by Maestro Damien Crutcher, performs at the annual Stars in the Park summer concert series at the Heritage Park amphitheater in 2018. This year the band will perform as the opening act of the concert series June 13.

Photo provided by Jim Liska

Stars in the Park in Farmington Hills brings new acts

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published June 12, 2019

FARMINGTON HILLS — Stars in the Park, the annual summer concert series hosted by the Farmington Hills Cultural Arts Division, returns for another summer season filled with music and entertainment at Heritage Park.

The free summer concert series will be held at 7 p.m. Thursdays beginning June 13 at Heritage Park, 24915 Farmington Road.

Each concert is anticipated to last until 8:30 p.m., and attendees are welcome to bring blankets or lawn chairs, as well as a picnic dinner to eat while enjoying the music and nature surrounding the park.

With four new acts coming to the amphitheater this year, along with several others returning, attendees can expect to see a diversity of music and entertainment grace the amphitheater stage throughout the summer.

“This year we have our first international act, from Canada,” said Rachel Timlin, the director of the city’s Cultural Arts Division. “It’s the first year we’ve hired someone from outside the United States.”

Timlin said that when the event began many years ago, it started out only bringing in community groups, like the community bands and choruses, but with the sponsorship from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, they’ve been able to expand the series to include other, larger acts from outside the city as well.

Stars in the Park began as a summer concert series in 1988, organized by the Special Services Department of the city. The summer program moved to the Cultural Arts Division’s desk in 2000, when the department was created. In 2008, the concerts were moved to the newly built amphitheater in the park. The series has drawn in approximately 3,000 community members consistently each summer for the last decade.

From the opening act, the Farmington Community Band  — which has been a staple entertainer in the series year after year  — to Canadian rocker Sarah Smith, Americana artist Grizzly Goat, local Farmington Hills firefighter and saxophonist Stan Barnes, the TBD A Capella group, the Indian Musical Extravaganza by Jai Ho, and more, the summer series provides a taste of music spanning genres to appeal to differing interests of community members.

Having a diversity of performers, being inclusive and providing access to free music are a few of the keys of the series, said Timlin.

“Having access to free concerts, I think it’s important. We have a lot of seniors, and a lot of families with young children that bring their kids out to the concerts, and I think it’s important for them because they are free, and maybe it would be cost-prohibitive to bring their four young children to a theater,” she said. “They get to experience music while being able to move around, and that’s not always possible at a theater.

“I just think everybody deserves to hear good music.”

Maestro Damiem Crutcher, the music director and conductor for the FCB, is excited to open up this year’s concert series because it allows him and his 90 band members to “reconnect with people (they) might not play for on a regular basis.”

Crutcher, who is in his 16th year as maestro for the FCB, studied music as an undergraduate student at Michigan State University before going on to obtain his masters degree in conducting from the University of Michigan.

Crutcher said he found a love for music as a high school student going through the music programs in the Detroit Public Schools system, but the few weeks he spent at the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp as a teen were really the “turning point” for him. From there he was able to study under some exceptional conductors at college, who helped him grow into the conductor and musician he is today.

“They’re two of the top programs in the country, so being in that environment helped me grow,” he said of Michigan State and Michigan. “A lot of the music I perform now I learned from there.”

The 90-piece band plans to perform a variety of music June 13, including symphonic and classical tunes, movie and musical renditions, pop, R&B, Americana, Sousa marches and more.

“We’re doing a piece of music by Prince. We’re doing another piece of music by Aretha Franklin. We’ll do a piece by John Williams, who wrote the music for the movie ‘E.T.,’” said Crutcher. “It’s a variety of music, from classical to movie music and R&B, so there will be something for everybody for sure.”

In the end, Crutcher and Timlin both hope the music performed through this summer concert series helps to bring community members closer together.

“I think the nature of music does that anyway … but just especially hearing the music in the park, outside, in nature, is a whole other experience on its own,” Timlin said.

“Music has that kind of drawing power to bring people together,” Crutcher added. “We enjoy music. It’s a big part of our lives — commercials, TV, radio — and I think it’s a common bridge between people, no matter where you’re from.”

For more information on the event, to see the schedule of performers, or to preview any of the acts performing this summer, visit In case of rain, call (248) 473-1848, as some concerts may be moved to the Costick Center.