Patriotic music and themes from stage and screen

Ken Dahleen and his Big Band Staff open season 19 of the Idyllwild Summer Concert Series with a patriotic tribute to the Fourth of July and songs from Broadway and the movies.

The popular eight-week series, in a nod to locals, takes place on Thursday nights, not on tourist-heavy weekends. Season 19’s downbeat takes place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 5.

The location this year is new — the parking lot below the Idyllwild Brew Pub. The lot adjoins the Idyllwild Community Center property that has long been the series’ home. Construction on the site makes the previous location unavailable this year.

Because the location requires navigating steps or the slope from the upper Strawberry Valley Plaza lot to the Brewpub Parking lot, Dahleen has arranged for the Idyllwild Shuttle bus to transport those who might need assistance from the upper lot to the concert site. The shuttle will operate both before and after the concert.

The pickup site in the Strawberry Valley Plaza lot will be clearly marked. Dahleen said this year’s location will be able to accommodate as many attendees as in previous years.

The Idyllwild Brewpub will be open during the concert and provide another vantage point for concert patrons.

The inaugural evening will feature big-band patriotic music and themes from movies and Broadway with jazz-oriented arrangements. “We’ll have selections from Doc Severinsen’s ‘Tonight Show’ band, Count Basie, Ted Heath, Les Brown, Airmen of Note and others,” said Dahleen. Tributes to the Fourth include “The Star Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful and “God Bless the USA.”

“We’re also featuring soprano Melissa Batalles,” said Dahleen. “She has an extraordinary voice.” Argentina-born Batalles has been widely featured with major orchestras. She can be heard on YouTube singing some of the most iconic Broadway classics, including “Glitter and Be Gay,” from Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide,” an acknowledged test of the chops of any great soprano. Batalles will sing “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s “Turandot,” as well as Broadway and pop-standard favorites.

Producer Dahleen and his ISCS board mount this summer confection as a gift to town residents. There is no admission charge. But as Dahleen notes, although free, the series is not without cost.

“This year, because of the new location, there are extra costs we’re not used to having, including new county permits and a generator,” said Dahleen. “We’re a long long way from meeting budget.”

Each year, Dahleen and the board contract performers and launch the series on hope — hope that locals will donate enough to pay the bills — either as series sponsors or Thursday night contributors who fill the donation jars volunteers pass around.

Attendees are reminded to bring chairs and flashlights for after the concert.