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Serenade to feature music, more

Drummer Terry Trovato and bagpiper Darrin Parkhill will be one of the musical acts featured in this year’s Serenade in the Cemetery. The duo gets in a little practice for this year’s event.
Drummer Terry Trovato and bagpiper Darrin Parkhill will be one of the musical acts featured in this year’s Serenade in the Cemetery. The duo gets in a little practice for this year’s event.

The past will live again in a musical fashion at the Natchez City Cemetery during the third annual Serenade in the Cemetery.

The musical storytelling of the cemetery’s residents performed during the walking tour is a callback to years ago when tending to graves was a family activity that brought many people to cemeteries for picnics and visiting, organizer Annette Holder said.

“Many cemeteries are going back to (having) activities in the cemetery and making it more alive and beautiful,” Holder said. “There’s such a feeling of serenity about it. It’s so peaceful.”

Actors will retell the stories of the natives buried at different times in the cemetery.

Mike Roboski will portray former cemetery superintendent C. W. Vincent.

Barney Schoby will tell the story of Jane Johnson of Melrose.

Lyman “Buddy” Aldrich will tell the story of the Balfour family.

Dub Rogers and Sally Durkin will also give a special presentation on “Get On Up,” the James Brown biopic recently filmed in Natchez. Rogers played a role in the movie in a burial scene that was filmed in the cemetery, Holder said.

Musicians performing during Serenade in the Cemetery include Father Walton and the Funky Friars, violinist David Troutman, flautist Debbie Hudson, harpist Merisha Gore and flautist Robin Rutherford.

Drummer Terry Trovato and piper Darrin Parkhill will be playing near the graves of those of Scotch and Irish descent.

“We will be saluting, if you will, those of Scotch and Irish descent,” Trovato said.

Local historian Don Estes will demonstrate the art of dowsing. Joan McLemore will share stories about Victorian customs and cemetery symbolism. Former cemetery director Danny Brown will offer visitors a brief history of the cemetery.

Holder said Natchez native and internationally known florist John Grady Burns has volunteered his floral services to the event, as well.

Serenade in the Cemetery will be from 1:30-5 p.m. April 27. Musical presentations will begin at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the Natchez Visitor and Reception Center or at the cemetery gate. Attendees can park at the cemetery or at Natchez Little Theatre, where a shuttle will transport patrons to the event.

Complimentary refreshments will be offered.

Cemetery driving and walking tour CDs and cemetery note cards will also be on sale.

Angels on the Bluff and Serenade in the Cemetery are the cemetery association’s two biggest fundraisers of the year. The upkeep and maintenance of the cemetery are important, Holder said, because the cemetery tells the history of Natchez and is an attraction to tourists.

Holder, who owns Mrs. Holder’s Antiques, said she hears comments about the cemetery from tourists frequently in her shop.

“It’s heartwarming to know that people care that much to go see all the beautiful artwork and monuments, so it is really important to keep it looking good,” she said.

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