Musicians, dancers, artists to present Elton John tribute in Allentown
If Austin Powers is the “International Man of Mystery,” then Sir Elton John has to be the “International Man of Music.”
You know the persona, the act, the costumes, the gossip, but most of all you know the music. The music, after all, is what has made Sir Elton a constant companion throughout your life, even if you’re only a casual fan.
Are you still standing? Did you feel the love tonight? Felt so good one day you didn’t want the sun to go down on you? In themselves, they are just moments. With an artist of Sir Elton’s talents, they are transformed into milestones.
All things end and the great showman is ending his yellow brick road of touring with a three-year “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” concert tour that starts Sept. 8 at the PPL Center, Allentown.
To say thank-you to the charismatic performer, a concert featuring interpretations of his music, “Egads! We’re Still Standing,” will be held the night before, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 7, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 37 S. Fifth St.., Allentown.
Performers include The Gilbert Family Sing For America!, Mainstreet Brass, Jim Loftus, Rody Gilkeson, Julia Lipkis, Arthur Benson, Jason Adams, Eric Gombert, Dixie Carroll, and Repertory Dance Theatre dancers Nicole Kujas and Lauren Luckachek.
“This concert is a recognition of the resiliency, passion, and dedication to humanity of Sir Elton John, one of the greatest performers in popular music history,” said Paul Willistein, vice president of the vestry at St. John’s and a member of the Arts at St. John’s committee.
On exhibit at the church will be paintings created to commemorate Sir Elton John’s farewell tour: Ann Elizabeth Schlegel, “Yours Are The Sweetest Eyes - The Grand Piano,” “The Red Violin,” “The French Horn” and Rosemary Geseck, “Beyond The Yellow Brick Road.”
The set list should satisfy even the most enthusiastic Sir John fans.
It will feature a preview performance of “Electricity” by Parker James Fullmore, who plays Billy Elliot in “Billy Elliot,” Oct. 12-28, Civic Theatre of Allentown.
“Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” and “Circle Of Love” will receive an expert treatment by Mainstreet Brass. “Circle of Life” and the victorious anthem “I’m Still Standing” will be handled by the talented Gilbert family.
Julia Lipkis will perform “Take Me To the Pilot” and “Levon” on violin, accompanied by Gombert, piano.
Loftus will play piano and sing “Your Song,” “The One” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” Benson, guitar, will handle “Levon.” and Adams, piano, will tackle the legendary “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”
Meanwhile, Gilkeson will sing and Gombert will play piano for “Daniel.” Carroll will sing, accompanied by Gombert, piano, “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”
“Candle in the Wind” will be performed by the ensemble and the audience, with an interpretive dance by Repertory Dance Theatre dancers Nicole Kujas and Lauren Luckachek, choreographed by Repertory Dance Theatre Artistic Director Jennifer Haltzman Tracy, with Gombert, organ, and Loftus, piano.
The lighting of candles will conclude the concert.
Considering that Sir John could play any venue outside of the South Pole and selected Allentown as the starting point for his farewell tour is stunning. It shows how far the city has come back from the brink. The “Egads! We’re Still Standing” concert is a way of saying we appreciate it, Willistein said.
“The show is a thank-you from Allentown and the Lehigh Valley to Sir Elton for choosing Allentown for the start of his farewell tour,” Willistein said. “The concert also celebrates the comeback of the city of Allentown, the vibrancy of its talented musicians and the continued strength of its faith community.”
Willistein noted during an Aug. 14 news conference announcing the concert that Sir Elton’s hit “I’m Still Standing” could be applied to the stately and aesthetic St. John’s, founded in 1855 as the first English-speaking Lutheran church in the then predominantly immigrant German city of Allentown.
“We are still standing as a church,” Willistein said of St. John’s.
The concert is being held in conjunction with the “To Sir Elton, With Love” exhibit, Sept. 4-Oct. 5 at the Bradbury-Sullivan LBGT Community Center, 522 W. Maple St., Allentown. An artists’ reception is 6 - 8 p.m. Sept. 20 at Bradbury-Sullivan.
Sir Elton has sold more than 300 million records during his nearly half-century career. He has had more than 50 Top 40 hits and seven consecutive number one albums. He has received five Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Tony Award, the Kennedy Center Honors and in 1994 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The “Egads! We’re Still Standing” concert is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation. A reception at the church will follow the concert. Parking is available at the Community Parking Deck, Sixth and Walnut streets, Allentown.
Information: stjohnsallentown.org; 610-435-1587