Concert Pavilion Will Bring 50 Free Shows a Year
Levitt Pavilion is the legacy of world-renowned haberdasher and philanthropist
Fifty free concerts will be played every summer on a stage that will sit in the shadow of the old Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces and be a part of the legacy of a world-famous haberdasher and arts philanthropist.
The Levitt Pavilion at SteelStacks will be the sixth such free concert stage in the United States, where professional musicians come to play and people can come to hear without a ticket charge.
Officials from ArtsQuest, the developer of SteelStacks, and Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan were joined by Elizabeth Levitt Hirsch, president of Levitt Pavilions, to announce the project in the still-under-construction ArtsQuest Center in South Bethlehem.
“What an allegory of the Phoenix rising from the ashes,” Hirsch said as she gestured to the blast furnaces behind her. “What an honor it is to be welcomed to the city of Bethlehem.”
Levitt Pavilions will provide a $1.2 million endowment for the development of the stage and five summers worth of performances, beginning this summer on July 2, said Jim Creedon, the president of the Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks board of directors.
A schedule of performances will be released at a later date, ArtsQuest officials said.
Levitt Pavilions is named for Mortimer Levitt, the haberdasher who made a name and fortune for himself, sewing an empire of custom-tailored dress shirts, beginning The Custom Shop in New York in 1937.
Levitt grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., where his father eked out a living selling butterfly pins on the Coney Island boardwalk. At night, he would stand outside the gates of Luna Park, an admission-only amusement park, and listen to the music that came from within.
That feeling of being left outside of something he wanted to be a part of never left him. When he decided to create an artistic charity that would build new concert stages, he was “adamant” that there would be no admission charge, Hirsch said.
Other Levitt Pavilions already exist in Los Angeles and Pasadena in California, Memphis; Arlington, Texas and Westport, Conn. The venues are nationally known and recognized for their quality of sound, lighting and performance.
The Bethlehem pavilion will have enough space for about 2,500 people on a lawn where people will be able to bring lawn chairs and blankets.
The plan is to bring a diverse mixture of talent to the Levitt Pavilion stage. There will be regular performances of rock, blues, World music and children’s programming, said Creedon, a consultant who until earlier this year served in Gov. Ed Rendell’s cabinet as the secretary of the Department of General Services.
The construction schedule for SteelStacks will only permit 30 concerts this summer, but for summers thereafter, the concert series will begin in May and end in September, five days a week, with a break for Musikfest, when the stage will also be used as a free concert venue.