Songs of Summer: Maudslay concert series launches 27th season

This year Maudslay Arts Center (MAC) will celebrate its 27th season with a wonderful line-up of concerts, including some welcome reunions, but there were some sad farewells, too.

“We said ‘goodbye’ to some of our best friends due to the loss of Rebecca Parris and Paul Broadnax last year,” MAC Music Director Nicholas C. Costello said.

Husky-voiced jazz singer Rebecca Parris, known for both her blistering scat runs and her deeply affecting interpretations of ballads, died last June, at the age of 66.

“A blonde, zaftig, vivacious earth mother with a voice as deep and swaggering as a tenor saxophone,” James Gavin wrote in Jazz Times wrote. “Parris could blow on a standard with freewheeling imagination worthy of Ben Webster, and she swung just as hard.

paul broadnaxLocal jazz legend pianist and singer Paul Broadnax died on Aug. 1, at the age of 92.

“His singing was very honest, very sensitive, and he never showed any ego whatsoever, either in his performance or in his speech,” pianist, arranger, and longtime friend Donn Trenner told The Boston Globe.

“This year we’re bringing back legendary performers,” Nicholas C. Costello said, “Jonathan Edwards and The New Black Eagle Jazz Band.”

Musician and singer-songwriter Jonathan Edwards, best known for his hit single “Sunshine,” is celebrating 50 years in music. For over 40 years, from Symphony Hall to Singapore, the New Black Eagle Jazz Band has delighted audiences worldwide with its infectious, soulful and uplifting style of traditional New Orleans jazz. Maudslay Arts Center is proud to welcome them both back in Newburyport.

Don Campbell BandMAC favorite The Don Campbell Band will open the season on Sunday, July 7, ushering in a new season with something for every musical taste from Big Band to jazz, from opera to bluegrass, from country to the Great American Songbook.

Joining The Hillyer Festival Orchestra this summer will be tenor Yeghishe Manucharyan. Admired for his outstanding musical intelligence, and for the purity, power, and flexibility of his voice, Manucharyan is becoming one of the most sought after young tenors singing today.

Closing the season will be Amanda Carr, a multi-styled vocalist/pianist, who has performed and recorded in the U.S. and abroad. Twice a feature story by respected writer/author Nat Hentoff in The Wall Street Journal, she garnered global exposure as he hailed her, ”…a true jazz singer in a time of wannabes.”

Amanda CarrWith five jazz vocal recordings, global distribution and airplay, Carr continues to perform as a solo artist while remaining a popular guest artist. Amanda Carr has been a vocalist with Keith Lockhart and The Boston Pops, The Artie Shaw Orchestra, Harry James Band and the Glenn Miller Orchestra and recently with Michael Feinstein in concert. 

The celebration will continue with MAC favorites The Bobby Keyes Trio, jazz vocalist Donna Byrne, Danielle Miraglia and The Glory Junkies, and The Hal McIntyre Big Band featuring Steve Marvin performing a tribute to Frank Sinatra. It will be a gala year.

Saturday concerts begin at 7 p.m. and include: Bobby Keyes Trio on July 13, Hillyer Festival Orchestra on July 20, Jonathan Edwards on July 27, The New Black Eagle Jazz Band on August 10, and Amanda Carr on Aug. 17.

Sunday afternoon performances begin at 2 p.m. and include: Don Campbell Band on July 7, jazz vocalist Donna Byrne on July 14, Danielle Miraglia and The Glory Junkies on July 21, and The Hal McIntyre Big Band on Aug. 11.

Whether you’re sitting under the stars on a moonlit evening, or lounging on a blanket on a Sunday afternoon, the Maudslay Arts Center Summer Concert Series provides the perfect setting for your entertainment pleasure.

“This past winter a tree fell and we had major structural damage to the barn,” Costello Jr. said. “We rehabilitated the barn and are looking forward to re-opening it this summer, our 27th year without interruption.

“We continue to make upgrades and improvements and as a result there is not a bad place to sit at Maudslay. On the lawn, patio or inside the concert venue, the acoustics are wonderful.”

MAC is a popular cultural and entertainment destination that has served tens of thousands of patrons since its founding 26 years ago in 1992. Situated in a picturesque corner of the 442-acre Maudslay State Park in Newburyport, MAC is best known for its outstanding summer concert series.

It all started back in 1985, when Nicholas J. Costello with the help of other environmentally conscious state legislators realized the purchase of the 500-plus-acre Moseley estate by The Commonwealth Of Massachusetts. The purchase effectively saved the property from private developers waiting in the wings to buy this amazing tract of land on the Merrimack River, full of trails and gardens and home to thousands of species of plants.

In 1993, three men of vision were granted a special permit by the state Dept. of Environmental Management. Former Senator Nicholas J. Costello, former Mayor Edward Molin and E. James Gaines pooled their ideas, expertise and capital to create the Maudslay Arts Center, MAC. 

From the rubble and decay of an area known as the “the farmyard” the trio designed and built a 1600-square-foot performance stage, the lynchpin of an area that forms a natural bowl consisting of the patio area for chairs and tables seating 200. An adjacent lawn area nestled under the trees accommodates an additional 200. 

Since its beginning, MAC continues to operate through the effort of volunteers. All costs are offset by gate receipts, rentals for special occasions, and donations from patrons and businesses. No tax dollars are involved.

Maudslay Arts Center is located at 95 Curzon Mill Road, Maudslay State Park, Newburyport MA 01950. The concerts are held rain or shine, moving to the indoor performance hall adjacent to the patio when weather dictates.

“There’s never a ‘rain out’ at Maudslay Arts Center,” Nicholas C. Costello said. “We just go inside.”

Concertgoers are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner, which can be casual or as elaborate as a gourmet meal with tablecloth and flowers and whatever suits the patron’s fancy. Delicious desserts such as seasonal cobblers, brownies, and Hodgie’s ice cream, and cold beverages may be purchased during intermission, all served by dedicated MAC volunteers, who continue to make this non-profit series happen.

“We want to say ‘thank you’ to the volunteer staff, who continue to maintain the flowers, the grounds, and help to facilitate concerts,” Nicholas C. Costello said, “and The Newburyport Bank, which continues their sponsorship of the Saturday evening concert program.

“Without our sponsors and volunteers and their commitment to Maudslay, we could not continue to do what we do. We also want to thank the State of Massachusetts for their continuing partnership and the wonderful work they do maintaining the 442 acres of this beautiful estate.”

Saturday performances start at 7 p.m., with gates opening at 6 p.m. Patio seating (tables and chairs) is $30. Groups of four or more are $25 each, while lawn seating (bring your own chairs or blankets) is $25. Children 12 and under are free.

Sunday performances start at 2 p.m. with gates opening at 1 p.m. General admission is $20 with open seating on the patio and lawn. Tables and chairs are provided on the patio. Special group rates may be arranged by calling 978-499-0050.Children 12 and under are free.

“Summer is just a brief season here in New England,” Nicholas C. Costello said, “so come out and enjoy wonderful music at affordable prices in a spectacular natural setting.”

For the complete summer schedule, to purchase tickets online, or for further information about the performers, visit the MAC website at Tickets also may be purchased at the gate (check or cash only) or by calling (978) 499-0050. There is no reserved seating. Gift certificates also are available.

The series is supported by The Newburyport Bank, dedicated MAC volunteers and patrons, and the staff of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The Saturday evening performances are sponsored by The Newburyport Bank.

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