JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – With a lawn filled with families on blankets and a warm summer evening, the strains of “Georgia on My Mind” announced the opening of Newtown Park Amphitheater Jue 28 to a full house.
“Welcome to your hometown amphitheater,” said Johns Creek Mayor Bodker to officially open the new amphitheater.
The large covered stage has enough room beneath the roof to hold up to 500 people seated. A terraced lawn can hold a further 800 people.
For the opening performance, families put down blankets for picnics while food trucks parked nearby for people to relax and enjoy the music of the Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra.
The Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra, founded in 2007, is made up of professional musicians who share their love of music.
The guest conductor of the night was maestro John Morrison, who has served as music director of the Atlanta Community Orchestra and has conducted the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra.
The varied selection of music ranged from the traditional – Offenbach’s “Can-Can” from “Orpheus in the Underworld” – to the modern, such as the “Star Wars” theme and other film scores.
Special for the evening was the inclusion of soprano singer Jeanne Brown for several songs, wowing the audience with her voice for “O Mio Babbino Caro” by Puccini and popular Porgy and Bess song “Summertime.”
She received standing ovations after both pieces.
Johns Creek resident Susan Grissom said she was glad to have an amphitheater in her home city.
“We have gone to Duluth and Norcross the see concerts. I love having a place of our own where we can come. This is really nice,” Grissom said.
Architect Michael Mitchell, whose firm designed the amphitheater and park, was on hand for the debut concert. He said when they began to work on the project 18 months ago, it didn’t look promising. He had done the original work for Fulton County when they designed Newtown Park.
“This was a rocky ravine here. When we began on Newtown, the county said the goal was to use all the land. So there was not much left for an amphitheater here,” Mitchell said. “The biggest challenge was making it fit.”
The company left one token boulder on the lawn as a reminder of what they had to move out make the locale nice.
Debbie Sapp was enthusiastic about the new amphitheater.
“This is amazing. It’s spectacular. It’s very well done,” she said.
The presenting sponsor of opening night was the Johns Creek Foundation
For more about the Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra, visit them online at www.johnscreeksymphony.org. Newtown Park and the new amphitheater are located at 3150 Old Alabama Road, Johns Creek.