Rockwall MusicFest, Greater Rockwall Philharmonic Orchestra celebrate ten years

Free anniversary concert, new Entertainment Series to mark decade of cultural growth

This spectacular shot of the Greater Rockwall Philharmonic Orchestra performing at The Harbor was captured and shared by David Wilfong. The framed photograph is on display at Rockwall City Hall.

(Rockwall) August 24, 2012 – Labor Day weekend is just around the corner, and the Rockwall community has an opportunity to celebrate the holiday in a ‘noteworthy’ way.  It’s the 10th anniversary of Rockwall MusicFest and the Greater Rockwall Philharmonic Orchestra.

Free 10th anniversary concert 

Ruth Peck, co-founder of Rockwall MusicFest and the Greater Rockwall Philharmonic Orchestra.

Co-founded in 2002 by Ruth Peck and the late Mary Eileen House, Rockwall MusicFest and the Greater Rockwall Philharmonic Orchestra have made great strides in establishing Rockwall as a cultural center for music and the arts.

Mayor David Sweet is expected to give a proclamation at the orchestra’s FREE 10th anniversary concert, set for 7:45 p.m. Saturday, September 1 at The Harbor Amphitheatre, 2047 Summer Lee Drive. Concert-goers will enjoy a beautiful sunset over Lake Ray Hubbard, accompanied by the classical sounds of string, brass, woodwind and percussion instruments.

The orchestra comprises 55 talented musicians – a mix of gifted, young performers playing alongside seasoned professionals. The conductor is Dr. Stephen Holcomb, Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Dallas Baptist University. The concert will “Celebrate the Movies through Music of the 1940’s to the Present.” The show is sure to capture the attention and imagination of all ages with music from Harry PotterStars Wars and The Sound of Music.

Margo Nielsen, executive director of Rockwall County Helping Hands and a longtime supporter of MusicFest, will narrate the program. The finale will include fireworks bursting overhead, as the orchestra plays Stars and Stripes Forever.

“Bring the whole family and expect to be entertained,” said Ruth, whose passion for the cause is contagious. “It’s going to be an explosive performance – a chance for young talent to be seen and heard, while advancing music and culture in our community.”

Entertainment Series 2012-13

Ruth is also excited to announce Rockwall MusicFest’s 2012-13 Entertainment Series, which kicks off in November and features four unforgettable evenings of jazz, swing, a capella and comedy.  All performances will be at the Performing Arts Center at Utley, a state-of-the art facility located at1201 T.L. Townsend Drivein Rockwall, with exact dates and times to be announced.

The Rockwall Chamber's recent Partnership Luncheon at Rockwall Golf & Athletic Club welcome Ruth Peck as guest speaker.

“You no longer have to drive to Dallas to hear music that moves you, or go to Richardson, Plano or Irving to enjoy top-notch entertainment,” Ruth told the crowd at a recent Rockwall Area Chamber of Commerce Partnership Luncheon, where she was the guest of honor.

“On opening night, we’re welcoming The One O’Clock Lab Band – the premier performing ensemble of UNT. They are directed by Steve Wiest, Associate Professor of Jazz Studies.  They have received an unprecedented six Grammy nominations,” she said.

Side Street Strutters

In February, the Side Street Strutters take the stage for a one-of-a-kind musical experience that includes tap dancing, colorful costumes, breathtaking vocals and musicianship.

“They’ll put a skip in your step,” Ruth said.

Comedian Robert Post

Comedian Robert Post brings his one-man variety show to town in March. His act is inspired by his Italian grandmother (who sang at danced at nearly every family occasion, including funerals) – and by Vaudeville, juggling, and specialty acts featured on the Ed Sullivan Show.

“There aren’t enough words to describe how amazing Robert is,” Ruth said. “He’s brilliant, crazy, funny – phenomenal! You may have seen him on the Today Show; now you can experience his show in person.”

42 Five

Ruth is also a big fan of 42Five, “an instrumental band with no instruments.” The award-winning a capella quintet closes out the Entertainment Series in May, 2013.

Subscriptions are $65 (all four performances), available through or by calling 972-800-9841. Single tickets are $25 each, available 30 days before each performance. Sponsorships are also available.

The legacy

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be celebrating ten great years with MusicFest and the Rockwall Philharmonic,” Ruth said. “We’ve taken another step forward in bringing the best of entertainment to our area.”

Ruth Peck and Buddy Ebsen.

A legend in her own right, the retired actress and Broadway star has performed with the likes of Buddy Ebsen, Ginger Rogers, Barbara Eden and Gary Collins. She assisted many well-known playwrights, producers and agents – and produced the musical/comedy revue “Is There Life After Birth?” presented at The Inn of Six Flags, Arlington.  She was even a regular in Richard Rodgers’ summer concerts when he conducted the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Having studied voice and drama in New York at a very early age, Ruth underscores the importance of keeping cultural opportunities coming, “so our children can know the difference between Mozart and Motown.”

And for that, MusicFest needs the continued support of the community.

“Join the celebration that will resonate with our youth for years to come, as the Greater Rockwall Philharmonic Orchestra presents its 10th anniversary concert this Labor Day weekend,” Ruth said. “MusicFest appreciates your support, and looks forward to entertaining you as the 2012-13 Series gets underway.”

Written by Dawn Redig for publication at Blue Ribbon News, all rights reserved.

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