Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hunter Fuerste concert at Turner Hall for the Galena Foundation in its 10th year

By Hillary Dickerson, Editor
Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–“There’s something about Galena,” said Dr. Hunter Fuerste, the Dubuque, Iowa-ophthalmologist, who will lead his vintage orchestra in concert Saturday, June 18 at Turner Hall in Galena.

The concert, from 6 to 8 p.m., is hosted by the Galena Foundation and made possible by the generosity of a number of local table sponsors.

Performing in Galena at Turner Hall is one of Fuerste and his band’s favorite events of the year.

“I wouldn’t miss that for anything,” he noted, speaking specifically of the friendly people who attend and really seem to thoroughly enjoy the music as they sit in the historic building on Bench Street.

The band presents an authentic recreation of the big band era, the music of 1935 to 1945. The evening features recreations of the original hits of Glenn Miller, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Count Basie and others. In addition to a 14-piece big band, the program features singers, dancers and a special tight harmony vocal group, The Penthouse Serenaders.

Fuerste is constantly trying new music as he works to recreate the sounds of a bygone era. Pre-show, he worries and frets over what the response will be.

In Galena, his worry is always for not as the audience always responds positively, some even rising from their seats to dance and enjoy an evening out. He appreciates the enthusiasm, as do members of his band.

“Is there any better way to spend a Saturday night,” said Fuerste, noting in the age of electronics, a live concert really can’t be beat for the interaction and warmth a concert elicits. “There’s something fun about it.”

Fuerste and his orchestra members are grateful for the opportunity to perform in Galena and look forward each year to working with Galena Foundation officials and volunteers to pull off a successful concert. Many of those individuals, including Scott Lawlor and Tracy Furlong, have become friends through the years.

“I’m really thankful for that,” Fuerste continued.

Looking back over the past decade of concerts, Lawlor is also pleased with the response from the community to the concerts.

Lawlor remembers that first year, 2007, the 25th anniversary of the foundation, when the board–David Eaton, Lawlor, Libby Miller, Donna Wilmarth, Terry Cole, John Cox, Duane Grenier, Joel Holland and Pat Smith–wanted to host an event to raise community awareness about the work of the foundation.

The first concert, held in June 2007 at Grant Park, near the newly renovated fountain, was just what the foundation wanted it to be, a perfect way to make people in the community aware of the work of the foundation as they enjoyed a world class concert.

“It was a group effort,” said Lawlor, who is no longer on the foundation board but offers his time to help at the concert. He believes the foundation is one of the greatest community groups the city has as it leads and supports restoration and preservation efforts and offers grants to organizations whose efforts align with the foundation’s mission. “We all worked hard to put that first concert on.”

The first year was such a success that the board agreed to make the concert an annual event. Eventually, though, because of weather concerns, the venue became Turner Hall.

And now that the foundation is working in partnership with the city to restore Turner Hall, Lawlor said, it really is a perfect location. The concert draws the community into the building and allows them to see the work that has been done and the plans for the future.

The 250 to 300 people who typically attend the concert can give to the cause and help with the foundation’s mission. Table sponsors pay for the concert and have since the very beginning, Lawlor explained. The event really helps get the entire community behind the work of the foundation.

It’s a concert for all ages, Lawlor noted.

While those in the older generations remember the music of the big band era, the bands they listened to at local dance halls, younger people are just as interested.

Fuerste and his orchestra are fun and engaging and make sure the evening is entertaining.