Beaufort News

Orchestra now has inflatable band shell, will travel this summer

The fully-inflated band shell at the polo grounds of Rose Hill Plantation which will be used for the first time at the Picnic and Pops concert on May 15.
The fully-inflated band shell at the polo grounds of Rose Hill Plantation which will be used for the first time at the Picnic and Pops concert on May 15.

Each March, the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra stages an outdoor concert at Shelter Cove Community Park.

Even though it's called Symphony Under the Stars, the band and its audience are seated under a large tent.

Now, the orchestra truly will be alfresco, with its first outdoor, pops-style concert May 16 on the Rose Hill Plantation polo grounds. A series of three more outdoor shows is scheduled for July at Shelter Cove Community Park.

Organizers hope families will pack their blankets and picnic baskets for the performances.

The Town of Hilton Head Island gave the orchestra an $18,000 bed-tax grant earlier this year to buy a 26-foot-tall inflatable band shell that the 70-seat symphony will use, but is available for other groups, as well. The shell -- constructed similarly to the giant "moon bounces" children play in -- amplifies the music and is kept inflated by a fairly quiet electric air blower.

The hope is that adding outdoor music events will bolster the island's appeal to tourists during peak vacation season.

Orchestra officials can't wait to open a new chapter in which they can take their show most anywhere, as long as the weather cooperates.

"This will be the first of many events that will be held under this shell," said Mary Briggs, orchestra executive director. "Our vision is that eventually some event will be held every week during the summer for both tourists and year-round residents."

The Hilton Head Symphony will evaluate the shows' success in July before deciding whether to add more pops concerts to its summer 2010 schedule.

"Before we make any promises, we'll see how it goes," said program director Gloria Daly. "We want to see the audience's reaction. Hopefully residents and tourists will be crying -- or singing -- for more."

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