The West Philadelphia Orchestra will play Pastorius Park Concert Series on July 27.

by Nicole Griet

The Chestnut Hill Community Association’s 2011 Pastorius Park concert series will come to an end on Wednesday, July 27, with a performance by the West Philadelphia Orchestra and a picnic to honor police officers, firefighters and postal workers.

The evening program will begin at 6 p.m. with a picnic that is free to police, firefighters and postal workers and their immediate family members. For all others attending, the cost will be $8 a person. The concert, which is free to the public, begins at 7:30 p.m.

This is the 13th consecutive year the CHCA has sponsored the picnic and concert to honor public servants. This year, Top of the Hill Market, Baker Street Bread Company, McNally’s Tavern and volunteers from the Chestnut Hill Community Association will provide food and beverages.

After the picnic, the West Philadelphia Orchestra (WPO) will fill the park with its eccentric Eastern European folk sound. Gregg Mervine, percussionist and founder, started the orchestra in 2006, and today it includes about 15 musicians with a wide variety of musical talents.

The WPO has released two albums: 2007’s “One Year,” a compilation of live performances, and “WPO,” released in 2008, which features studio recordings of original and traditional songs. It’s hard to pinpoint one genre in which to place the WPO, but, according to its Facebook page, it falls somewhere within a mix of Balkan/Klezmer/Dancehall/Jazz/Tango/Funk/etc.

The diverse sounds and genres only amplify the WPO experience. On its Facebook page, the WPO said, “As a village band, we aim to uplift, inspire, and unify the Philadelphia community by playing music that renders boundaries obsolete and represents excellence.”

WPO musicians include: Jim Parker, sousaphone; Larry Toft, Brendan Cooney and Steve Duffy, baritone/trombone; Adam Hershberger, Patrick Hughes and Koofreh Umoren, trumpet; Elliott Levin and David Fishkin, saxophone; Larry Goldfinger, clarinet; founder Gregg Mervine, Jack Ohly, Nezih Antakli and Francois Zayas, tapan/snare/darbuka percussion; and Petia Zamfirova, vocals.

Officers Rodney Brown, Fred Clough, Kyle Cross, Joe Chiodo, Chris Mulderrig, Ed Solvibile and Steve Arbiz were guests of honor at last year's Police, Firefighter and Postal workers' picnic. (Photo by Jamie Perez)

The picnic and final concert are a great opportunity to come out and say thank you to the public servants that serve the community on a daily basis and to get to know other members of Chestnut Hill’s community organizations.

Picnic reservations can be made by calling the CHCA office at 215-248-8810 by Monday, July 25. Payment may be made at the picnic, but reservations are strongly encouraged.

The Pastorius Park Concert Series is sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Community Association, the Chestnut Hill Community Fund and Chestnut Hill Hospital.