Thursday, March 20, 2014

Zac Brown Band: Welcoming Summer 2014 at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium

Stadium Architect Kenneth Murchison's great-granddaughter Lynne de Wardener-Burris and great great-granddaughter Skye Burris
Zac Brown Band, Courtesy of Zac Brown Band website

Act Two at the iconic Forest Hills Tennis Stadium! On June 21, the summer will begin with high notes as the three-time Grammy winner and Multi-Platinum Zac Brown Band will take the stadium stage, and open the summer 2014 concert series. Other great names headlining today’s entertainment will soon be announced.

On June 21, doors will open at 5 PM for a 6 PM show, and as the sun sets somewhat later that evening, the audience will be left with an impression for concerts to come. Tickets will be available on March 22 at 10 AM through America’s first concrete tennis stadium, dating to 1923, has undergone restoration work in addition to some renovations, which include ticketed seating, improved ADA seating, widened aisles, handrails, and easier access to food, beverages, and other accommodations. The public can now bookmark a new website,

In August 2013, U.K. folk rock band Mumford & Sons, along with opening bands Bear’s Den and The Vaccines marked a new chapter of Forest Hills history by entertaining 17,000 fans in a stadium that was nearly sold for a condo just 3 summers earlier.

Mumford & Sons plays Forest Hills! Courtesy of Michael Perlman, Rego-Forest Preservation Council

Mumford & Sons became the first major musical act at the stadium since the 1980s, which not only attracted new fans, but struck a chord for patrons who recalled the annual Forest Hills Music Festivals of the 1960s through the early 1980s. Forty-nine years to the day, The Beatles delivered a legendary performance. Memorable summers also featured music greats including Frank Sinatra, Donna Summer, Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, and the Rolling Stones. 

Frank Sinatra about to go on stage with Count Basie at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium's Summer 1965 Music Festival, Photo courtesy of Robert Rauschenbach

Some fans also recalled pivotal moments in tennis history, such as those witnessed during the U.S. Open prior to 1978, or when Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson broke racial color barriers. Others reminisced the stadium’s cinematic role in “Strangers On A Train,” where Alfred Hitchcock filmed Davis Cup matches between Australia and the United States. 

"America's Tennis Stadium" ad, published in MIT's "The Technology Review" in 1922, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
A foremost public building architect, Kenneth Murchison, made his mark on Forest Hills by designing the stadium. “A resurgence of a concert scene at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium is a wonderful addition to the cultural fabric of the city,” stated Murchison’s great-granddaughter Lynne de Wardener-Burris, who first visited with her family last summer. She explained, “Many current music and sports venues are so removed from the people they are meant to attract, that it was refreshing to see this gem in midst of a thriving residential community. It felt like a people's place built on a human scale, and I know my great-grandfather would love that his work is being preserved and utilized.”
Architect Kenneth Murchison, Courtesy of Pati de Wardener
Past and present community residents are equally enthusiastic about the stadium’s second season. “We are very excited to see the Zac Brown Band,” said Sandra Mandell, who owns Oliloli Studio on Metropolitan Avenue. “It is such a treat to attend a concert right in our neighborhood. I am looking forward to my first experience at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, a venue rich with history, and I hope this new era brings more art and culture to Forest Hills.”

Jodi Kass-Tracten now resides in Redding, Connecticut, but will never forget Forest Hills. “In the mid-1960s, the night that Sammy Davis Jr. performed was magical. The air was crisp and the place was packed. He sang for hours, and then of course no one wanted him to leave, so he sang some more.” She continued, “It’s still such an elegant place, and I'm thrilled that the Stadium has reopened for concerts.”

My mother knew my sister and I were Beatles fans, so she bought us tickets in the summer of 1964,” said Las Vegas resident Judith Becker. She explained, “I can vividly remember everyone’s excitement, as they looked up to see their helicopter arriving and landing on the grass courts. I spent my teenage years seeing concerts with friends, and I remember sneaking in through a hole in the fence.” In closing remarks, she added, “I haven't been back to Forest Hills for many years, but I would sure go back to see a concert at the Forest Hills Stadium, a beautiful and intimate venue.”

The audience at Mumford & Sons, August 28, 2013 photo courtesy of Michael Perlman, Rego-Forest Preservation Council

America's first concrete tennis stadium, Courtesy of Michael Perlman, Rego-Forest Preservation Council

 A similar edition of this feature appeared in Michael Perlman's Forest Hills Times column:

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