Picture this: you’re lying in the warm summer sun relaxing, sipping a beer and chatting with friends as evening falls. Several feet away from your blanket, a world-class orchestra begins playing The Beatles’ “Penny Lane” or Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.” It’s a perfect evening.
Each summer, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra hosts a series of weekend outdoor concerts at Conner Prairie in Fishers, just northeast of Indianapolis. Amazing orchestral music, renowned popular artists and beautiful Indiana weather converge, making Symphony on the Prairie (SOTP) one of summer’s best attractions.
This year their lineup is better than ever with ‘80s pop star Christopher Cross, Sinatra interpreter Steve Lippia, Billy Joel protege Michael Cavanaugh and Beatles tribute band Classical Mystery Tour each performing with the ISO. Other concerts with the ISO include two weekends of classical masterpieces and a patriotic concert for the Fourth of July, as well as folk music legend Arlo Guthrie performing with Time for Three, the ISO’s young, intriguing resident ensemble.
The summer will finish up with concerts by four great artists performing without the ISO. The Glenn Miller Orchestra will transport audiences to the Big Band era of the 1930s, Lee Ann Womack will thrill country music fans and Flash Cadillac and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy pay their respects to the Golden Age of Rock and Dixieland, respectively.
The best part of SOTP is, of course, that it’s set in a relaxed, casual atmosphere. You can rent a picnic table for 10 or bring a blanket to sit on the lawn. You can bring in your favorite food and beverages. You can wear shorts and your most comfortable tank top. Concerts begin at 8pm, when the summer days start cooling off, and doors typically open at 6pm so you can stake out your favorite spot on the lawn.
If you plan ahead, you can get a great deal on tickets. Ten-ticket Value Packs are only $155 until April 30 and can be split up in any way (ten tickets to one concert, two tickets to each of five concerts, etc.). Single tickets will go on sale April 25 in Marsh and O’Malia’s stores and will be $22 in advance and $27 at the gate. Tickets are not concert specific, so if the show you want to attend is rained out, you can use the same ticket to attend any other concert–it’s a built-in rain check. Parking is free, but for $20 you can snag a premium spot for ease of entry and exit.
Dare to explore orchestral music this summer—Symphony on the Prairie is the perfect way to get your feet wet with classical music while hearing the songs and artists you already love.