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1980s Throwback: Denver Botanic Gardens Summer Concert Series

Queue the squeal of the cassette tape as we rewind the tunes. Denver Botanic Gardens’ Summer Concert Series began in 1980. As we are currently in the middle of our 40th concert season and our 10th year with presenting sponsor UMB Bank, we thought it would be fun to look back on how the series has grown over the years.  






a picture of the Denver Botanic Gardens Summer Concert Series in the 1980s.As it can be assumed from this 1980 photo, the inaugural concert season was an intimate and informal affair. Local classical and jazz musicians played on the amphitheater concrete pad, without a stage or lights and minimal amplification.

By the mid-1980s, we partnered with Colorado Public Radio (CPR) for programming and promotional support. At this time, the concerts were a free offering for members of both CPR and the Gardens. It soon became a public ticketed event.

A small crowd at an early Denver Botanic Gardens Summer Concert Series event in the 1980s.The caliber of the artists grew, along with attendance and visibility. The musical offerings were diverse and included some artists that still play at the Gardens such as Béla Fleck and Judy Collins. Colleagues also remember seeing Beausoleil, Modern Jazz Quartet and international artists such as Olodum and Marianne Faithfull.  

The Gardens concluded the partnership with CPR in 1992 and worked with several booking partners before starting our current production partnership with Swallow Hill Music in 2010.

A large crowd at the Denver Botanic Gardens Summer Concert Series in the 1980s.It has been incredible to see the caliber of artists and production, along with audiences grow over the past 39 years. We are grateful for UMB’s ongoing support that allows us to host local, national and international artists on the UMB Amphitheater stage. We look forward to many more nights of incredible live music set against the beautiful backdrop of the Denver Botanic Gardens. We can’t wait to see what the 41st season brings in 2020!

Learn more about the Denver Botanic Gardens’ Summer Concert Series‡ as UMB celebrates its 10th year as presenting sponsor.graphic line break

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