Tradition lives on with Music Americana | Heraldrepublican

ANGOLA — Art Ryan would probably be proud to know that a tradition he started some 46 years ago is still alive and living today.

Ryan, a beloved educator, created Music Americana as a special tribute leading up to the holiday, typically the night before the Fourth. This year, due to a variety of scheduling conflicts, Music Americana is being held early, on Wednesday.

The creator of Music Americana — which was started to coincide with America’s bicentennial in 1976 (for those of you doing the math, remember; there was no show in 2020 due to the pandemic) — had each very unique edition conclude with the singing of “ (Back Home Again in) Indiana. ”

It was requested, perhaps strongly, that all performers in the concert return to the stage for the grand finale for the singing of “Indiana.” That will still be the case in the 45th Music Americana, which is Wednesday at the T. Furth Center for Performing Arts with doors opening at 6 pm The show is free, though donations are accepted.

“Traditionally, all performers are invited back to the stage for the grand finale — the singing of'(Back Home Again In) Indiana.’This was also one of Art Ryan’s requirements for the program,” said Karen Shelton, a member of the 101 Lakes Kiwanis and organizer of the program.

In the early days, the show was performed at Angola High School and it moved around in other Metropolitan School District of Steuben County buildings before landing at the Furth. Ryan was a career MSD teacher, principal and school board member. Ryan Park Elementary School is named in his memory.

It was in the bicentennial year that Ryan and his wife, Joan, decided to hold the musical program, typically the night before the Fourth of July and the sometimes raucous celebration of that day. It was a time to be somber, patriotic and celebrate patriots ..

Wednesday the performance opens with a 6-7 pm video tribute to local veterans. A slide show of photos appears on the screen above the Furth Center stage, then at 7 pm the local entertainment begins.

The program includes nearly 20 acts — including two of the 2022 Angola’s Got Talent winners, Ivy Witmer, performing the original song “Dance With Me,” and John Claudy performing “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor.”

Another special performance will be an ensemble from Holy Family Episcopal Church led by the Rev. Tom Adamson. He will be joined by Annette Lundgren, pianist; Zeke Adamson, percussion; and Pat Peters, Erica Wills, Aubrey Wills, Mary Corey and Abby Sholl for a rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem and “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

The program is coordinated by 101 Lakes Kiwanis of Angola and STAR Transportation. It’s all carried off in conjunction with the Angola Parks & Recreation Department and the Steuben County Tourism Bureau.

It may have evolved quite a bit from the early days, from a performance in an unairconditioned space to a grand performance hall. But a few things have remained consistent: Patriotic music fitting of the holiday celebrating the nation’s birth and a somber remembrance of those who sacrificed for the country’s freedom, all carried out Back Home In Indiana.

Art Ryan would be proud.

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