“Windjammers: Music from the Big Top" at the Adler Theatre -- July 20.

Saturday, July 20, 11 a.m.

Adler Theatre, 136 East Third Street, Davenport IA

A delightful multimedia presentation that includes historic photos and films, as well as music from the golden age of the great tented circuses of the past, the young people's concert event Windjammers: Music From the Big Top enjoys a July 20 morning performance at Davenport's Adler Theatre, with family audiences invited to hear the stories behind the music, and learn how the music complemented the different acts.

For the Music from the Big Top event, circus musicians from across the country are gathering in the Quad Cities to record music that famously accompanied jugglers, tightrope walkers, clowns, wild animal acts, elephants, and more in circus engagement all across the country. During their area stay, the gathered members of the Windjammer Band will read through unpublished marches by J.J. Richards, Russell Alexander, Fred Jewell, and Hale Vandercook, with highlights also including works by Iowa and Illinois circus composers. Circus-music clinics are being led by specialists including Andy Glover, President of the C.L. Barnhouse Company, and Nancy Olson, Curator of the Karl King Library. Directors from around the nation, meanwhile, will demonstrate how circus music can motivate and inspire young musicians, and the Windjammer Band will combine with local Quad Cities bands to present monster circus concerts on July 18 (Davenport's Putnam Museum & Science Center at 7:30 p.m.) and July 19 (Bettendorf's Veterans' Park at 7:30 p.m.) before Saturday's multimedia event at the Adler.

The week's events are hosted by Windjammers Unlimited, the brain child of Charles Bennett Jr. and Art Stensvad, both lovers of circus music. They were seeking other music-minded soulmates dedicated to the traditional music of the “Big Top," and the thriving organization of today, originally organized in 1971, is the result of their dream. The first performance of Windjammers with the Sailor Circus in Sarasota coincided with the WJU annual convention in 1986 and has continued uninterrupted since that date except for a COVID pause. WJU now continues its annual tradition and presents a financial contribution to the Sailor Circus Academy at the Circus Arts Conservancy to support their educational mission.

Windjammers has had its share of famous bandsmen who have all aided in making the organization what it is today. Merle Evans, director of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Show for more than 50 years, introduced Windjammers to his wide circle of friends, and among the individuals who became members through Merle’s urgings were Paul Yoder, Leonard Smith, Ken Slater, John McDonald, Bob Bamhouse, Charles Payne, Earl Slocum, and many others.

Windjammers: Music From the Big Top will be performed in Davenport on July 20, admission is free for the 11 a.m. event, and no tickets are required. For more information, call (563)249-4733 and visit DavenportLive.com/the-adler-theatre.

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