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Volunteers behind free concerts at Visitor Center

By Leslie Perkins

One of the activities presented by the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation are the free concerts held at the park’s Visitor Center in the indoor theater, or at the outdoor amphitheater. On the second Sunday of every month, you can enjoy the unique sounds of the Native American Flute Players in the outdoor amphitheater at 1 p.m.

On selected Sunday afternoons, the indoor theater is filled with the music from a variety of local performers. Visitors enjoy the opportunity to sit and relax during an up close performance (seating limited to 94 capacity). Indoor concerts begin at 3 p.m. and last 60–90 minutes. Please check out mtrp.org/events for upcoming Sunday concerts which will include: Amy Kanner playing her Celtic harp on Feb. 18; March 4 will be Gregory Page with “So It Goes” troubadour; and Marty Shaw performing on Celtic violin on March 18.

Amy Kanner brings her Celtic harp stylings to Mission Trails on Feb. 18. (Courtesy MTRPF)

These concerts are not possible without the efforts of a couple of special people who volunteer their time and talents to coordinate the performances at the park. Mitsuo “Mits” Tomita has lived in San Carlos since the late 1970s and has been a user of Mission Trails Regional Park for years. After he retired as a family practice physician at Kaiser Permanente in La Mesa in 2008, he was thinking about the wonderful auditorium at the Visitor Center and asked then-executive director Jay Wilson if he could help arrange a free concert for a Sunday afternoon. Mits has a love for music, being a string bass player since junior high school and has played in community orchestras.

In the spring of 2010, Mits helped the foundation kick off the concerts by scheduling a string quartet and then hosting six concerts by year-end. Mits is dedicated to finding and scheduling talented musicians to perform, and feels fortunate to bring an eclectic range of music from classical, jazz, choruses, and world music.

Helping Mits is Charles “Chuck” Carter, who attended his first concert at Mission Trails Regional Park in 2011, and promptly offered to volunteer for music-related events. He dedicates his time on a Sunday afternoon serving as concert master of ceremonies, welcoming people and introducing the performers. Chuck’s love for music goes way back to his early days working at Liberty Records first in the warehouse, then as a salesman, growing his own impressive record collection through those years. Chuck also worked at KPBS-FM Radio in 1986, providing music from his own collection for the first “San Diego Space Bridge” show, and then onto producing the radio show.

Gregory Page performs at Mission Trails on March 4. (Photo by Masen Larsen)

One of Chuck’s favorite memories of helping with the concerts at MTRP, is when they featured unusual instruments with Patrick Hadley playing a mbira (African thumb piano) and Ray Ford playing a hang drum (sounds like a Caribbean steel drum). Chuck had the musicians put their instruments out on a table in front of the auditorium beforehand and when people entered the theater they asked, “What in the world are these two things?” The sound of the two instruments worked well together and the audience loved the concert.

Special thanks to Mits and Chuck, along with Desiree Cera who also assists on Sundays, who have a passion for music. They form a great volunteer team to bring beautiful sounds for all at Mission Trails Regional Park!

— Leslie Perkins is executive director of Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation. Reach her at LPerkins@mtrp.org.

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