MusikFest Preview – History in the Making

If you’re new to Lehigh University, Bethlehem, the Lehigh Valley, or have been living under a rock – you might not know about the biggest music event in town, MUSIKFEST. The nice folks at ArtsQuest have been working to bring the community a great 10 day festival; this year introducing new venue locations in South Bethlehem. Of course, many readers have already been visiting the new SteelStacks arts campus, but Musikfest will be trying out a whole new scene with venues on both sides of the river.

If you want to get your bearings to make the most out of the next 10 days, ArtsQuest is doing a preview event tomorrow night, Aug. 4 from 6-11 p.m. at the SteelStacks arts and cultural campus in south Bethlehem.

The evening will include live music, open houses at the festival’s Sands Steel Stage main stage and the Musikfest Café, and the inaugural lighting of “The Bridge,” the 68-foot-long steel and fire sculpture by artist Elena Colombo located on the Air Products Town Square.

“This special preview night is designed for the residents of the Lehigh Valley, who have been so supportive of Musikfest over the years,” said ArtsQuest President Jeff Parks. “The event will provide them with a taste of this year’s Musikfest, as well as give them an opportunity to learn about the exciting, new venues at the festival this year. We invite people to come out and explore the SteelStacks campus, enjoy the live music and start their ‘festing a day early.”

But more than getting your bearings, the public has a chance to see the first lighting of  “The Bridge,” featuring a 34-foot-long natural gas (blue) flame. Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan and Mr. Parks will ceremoniously light the sculpture at 9 p.m. One minute before the flame is ignited, a steam ship whistle sound will announce the lighting, symbolizing the plant whistle that was blown at the Bethlehem Steel plant for many years. The plant’s whistle, which sounded to announce shift changes, was taken from the French luxury liner SS Normandie when it caught fire and sank in New York Harbor in 1942 while being re-commissioned as a troop ship.

The moment will be one to witness for old and new residents, seasoned and novice Musikfesters alike.

During Musikfest, The Bridge will be lighted at 9, 10 and 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and at 9, 10, 11 and midnight Fridays-Saturdays. Each time it is ignited, The Bridge will remain lighted for five minutes.

In addition to The Bridge sculpture lighting, preview night guests are invited to visit the Musikfest Café at the ArtsQuest Center, 101 Founders Way, and the Sands Steel Stage at PNC Plaza from 6-8 p.m. Both venues are new for 2011, and the free open houses will offer patrons the opportunity to check out the new venues, stages and seating arrangements.

We’re going to make the most of this event. How about you?