EXETER — Improvisational jamming will be the focal point of an evening filled with culinary delights, strong libations and love of music, as a group of supporters of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic gather to kick off the beginning of the PNC Pops season.
The Philharmonic Friends, in collaboration with the Susquehanna Tavern, the Peculiar Culinary Company and the Susquehanna Brewing Company, will host a jazz open mic night at the tavern on Thursday, Oct. 8. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with music from 6 to 8 p.m.
The opening show in the Pops Series, “New Orleans: A Tribute to Louis Armstrong,” which features concerts on Oct. 16 and 17, was the motivation for the jazz theme, and the Friends hope the open mic event will generate interest in the orchestra.
Founder of the Philharmonic Friends and treasurer of the philharmonic board of directors, Chelsea Rixner explained the group is comprised of people reaching out to their own generation to expose it to the philharmonic.
“We have a group of about six young professionals who are passionate about the philharmonic and we’re just trying to engage the under 40 crowd,” Rixner said. “Jazz is something that a lot of people in our generation seem to enjoy and appreciate and know about.”
Rixner said a group of about 10 polished musicians, all with different backgrounds and styles will perform and she’s hoping more attend. A house band, comprised of Chris Kang on guitar, Joe Michaels on bass and Timothy Rixner on drums, will lead the jam and encourage others to get involved.
Kang, a member of the board of directors, is a University of the Arts graduate and Timothy Rixner has played drums since he was 12.
Timothy Rixner’s father, Gary Rixner, will join the jam. The trombone player graduated with a music degree from Carnegie Mellon and plays in the Exact Change Band and The Indigo Moon Brass Band.
Kang’s wife, Jessica, plays violin in the philharmonic and will display her talents as well.
Appetizers will be provided by the Peculiar Culinary Company, and the Susquehanna Tavern will feature specials.
A $20 entry fee includes one free drink ticket, appetizers from Peculiar, beer from the Susquehanna Brewing Company and live entertainment. Patrons can purchase a ticket voucher for the Armstrong tribute for $20, which is a $10 discount from the usual ticket price.
Rixner said the open mic will be geared toward jazz but no musician will be excluded based on what they want to play.
“I think that what’s really great about this event is that it’s reminding the community that the philharmonic is about a love of music,” Rixner said. “A lot of people don’t necessarily associate jazz and an open mic night with the philharmonic. People forget that these people who are so passionate about classical music are also passionate about jazz music, about funk music, about world music, so we’re really just trying to remind people that we’re fun, we’re young and we’re diverse.”
That fresh look at the music and attitude of the orchestra is what Rixner hopes will make people realize how special the philharmonic is.
“It’s special, because it provides another way to engage the community and broaden your horizons, and it’s such a special and fun way to to disconnect from a world so inundated in social media and technology and have a really nice night with your friends,” Rixner said.
The Philharmonic Friends range in age from 25 to 35, but Rixner said board members and community members often crash meetings and mentor them, so attendees have been as old as 76.
“We’re more than happy to accept younger and older members,” Rixner said.