Allegheny Concerts To Feature Osmonds
Valley News Dispatch
by Rex Rutkoski
August 7, 2011
An American entertainment institution, the Osmond Brothers, is teaming with a local one, the Allegheny Valley Concert Association, to celebrate a landmark anniversary.
The Osmonds promise to be a highlight of the 55th season of the concert association.
Wayne, Jay and Merrill Osmond, who have been performing for almost 54 years after being "discovered" by Walt Disney and Andy Williams, bring their "The Osmond Brothers: Up Close & Personal" show, which includes younger brother Jimmy, to Valley High School auditorium in New Kensington on Feb. 26.
The four-concert subscription series opens early this year, on Sept 4, to pay tribute to the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with pianist Mac Frampton's "Gifts of Grace: Heroes of 9/11" patriotic show. The Lezginka Dance Company from Daghestan, Russia, will be in the spotlight on Oct. 23, and the Greensburg-based Graham Grubb Orchestra toasts the "Swingin' Big Band" era in the series finale on April 29.
Nora Ann Pastrick of Natrona, who, with the late Gerta Bendl and Dolly Bonidy, founded the concert association, is not surprised at the series' long run.
It is because of the commitment and hard work of volunteers who continue to believe in the worth of and need for such an organization, she says.
"When you look over the crowd of people who come to the concerts, you know you have done a good thing by keeping this going," she says. "There are not too many places you can go and see four good concerts at such an economical price."
Patrons pay either $40 or $50 for the season of shows, depending on ticket options. Tickets cannot be purchased for individual shows.
"It would cost that much for an average seat for one concert at Pittsburgh and other venues," says Robert Sauro of New Kensington, chairman of the concert-selection committee.
"I think our 55th anniversary is a testimony to our amazing volunteers and the whole community. The concert association is really a gem for our area," he says. "We are blessed with patrons who have been very loyal, and we are expanding every year with people from the entire Western Pennsylvania area starting to find us."
Drummer-vocalist Jay Osmond, 56, says that he and his family are happy to be part of this special season, and that after all these years, it remains satisfying to share their music with audiences worldwide.
"We are determined to keep it fun. We don't know how many years we have in this business, and we want to keep it fun all the way to the end. That is part of the magic we have on stage. It is fun for us," he says.
The New Kensington visit is expected to be one of the final ones with all four brothers together. Merrill, 58, is moving on to other projects. "It's kind of bittersweet. We've had so many great years together. But we are glad for him," Jay says.
Jay says one of the items on his "hope to still do" list is one more album with his brothers — "a fun, final album," he says.
The New Kensington performance will be "kind of an accumulation of 50-plus years of entertainment," he says, "every kind of genre (including barbershop, pop, rock and country) we've learned all our lives, family video, all the hits, of course, and an unplugged section where we sit and talk about the songs we learned."
Osmond says the brothers still are energized by the interaction with and response of the audience.
"It is an instant response that you see in people's eyes. Fans who have been with us a long time bring their families, and it is like a family reunion sometimes," he says. "We have felt so much love from our fans. It's just amazing to hear their stories of how our music touched their lives. Certain songs just naturally lift you, and we have tried in our music to lift others, to make it fun and positive.
"Probably the coolest thing is that Paul McCartney is a fan," Osmond says. "For him to say that and say it with confidence is a cool thing. He told us he loves our albums, especially the one called 'The Plan,' we produced back in the '70s. And it was neat meeting Led Zeppelin and having them say their families like to follow us."
He believes the Osmonds' sound is as unique as that of the Beach Boys and The Jacksons, among others. "Every group has a unique sound. Ours is a very warm sound. It's a family blend I have never heard from any other family. That's what makes us different."