Tuesday, June 26, 2012

HSO's Summertime Concerts & the 4th!

It's summertime and we've already had one official heat wave down. And while it looks like the heat may continue, that's not going to stop the celebrations for the 4th of July Week that rev up across the land this coming weekend.

Including the Harrisburg Symphony's summer series of six concerts across the Central PA region beginning Friday, June 29th at Lebanon Valley College and ending Wednesday, July 4th, at Harrisburg's City Island baseball stadium.

The program opens with the lively overture from Rossini's comic masterpiece, The Barber of Seville (familiar to fans of classic cartoons as well as the world of opera and concert hall) and includes music from Bizet's Carmen (including the 'March of the Toreadors'), Rodgers & Hammerstein's The Sound of Music, Leroy Anderson's 'The Typewriter' and Louis Prima's 'Sing Sing Sing' (arranged by our own Phil Snedecor) plus John Williams' Olympic Fanfare (with Arnaud's 'Bugler's Dream'), selections from Victory at Sea, a salute to the Armed Forces, Irving Berlin's 'God Bless America' and, even though it has nothing to do with American History, you can't do a 4th of July concert without it these days, highlights from Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture [see below] before ending with Sousa's 'Stars & Stripes Forever.'


Here are the locations and times for all of the six concerts. Please note the various starting times for each performance!

ANNVILLE - Friday, June 29 at 8 PM at the Lebanon Valley College Quad in Annville (sponsored by Lebanon Valley College) -- rain location: Lutz Recital Hall (Building #3 on the map)

ELIZABETHTOWN - Saturday, June 30 at 7 PM at Elizabethtown's Freemasons Cultural Center at the Masonic Village (sponsored by Amtrak and Hershey Entertainment & Resorts) -- this is an indoor concert!

CARLISLE - Sunday, July 1 at 7:30 PM - Carlisle Summerfair at the Dickinson College Quad (sponsored by Summerfair and Citizens of Carlisle) -- rain location: Carlisle Area High School

MIFFLINTOWN - Monday, July 2 at 7:30 PM - Juniata High School (sponsored by the Lawrence L. & Julia Z Hoverter Foundation and the 1st National Bank of Mifflintown) -- this is an indoor concert! 

LEMOYNE - Tuesday, July 3 at 8 PM - Negley Park (sponsored by the Lemoyne Business Association) - rain location: Cedar Cliff High School 

HARRISBURG - Wednesday, July 4 at 7:45 PM - Metro Bank Park, the home of the Harrisburg Senators on City Island - Fireworks after the concert! (sponsored by Chesapeake Energy & Dauphin County Commissioners) - Note: there is a $5 parking fee on City Island. Rain Location: The Forum (the Home of the Harrisburg Symphony)

(While concessions will be available for sale at the outdoor concerts in Carlisle, Lemoyne and Harrisburg, the policy of Metro Bank Park does not permit outside food or beverages in the stadium.)

 A special bonus for any of you who may be NEW to the Harrisburg Symphony and want to buy your first subscription series for the 2012-2013 season of Masterworks Concerts - which, incidentally, all take place indoors at the Forum! You can purchase a NEW subscription with a 50% off discount ONLY AT THESE SUMMER CONCERTS. Check in at the table near the orchestra's stage before and after the concert and during intermission.

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A note about the 1812 Overture. Russian composer Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky composed this for a special concert in 1882 commemorating the Battle of Borodino, the decisive battle of the 1812 invasion of Russia by Napoleon's Grand Army. With 250,000 troops involved and some 70,000 casualties, it wasn't really a victory for either side: the French lost nearly a third of their men but were still able to push through the Russian defenders who then retreated beyond Moscow, allowing the French to take the city, the heart of Russia. This eventually ended in disaster for Napoleon, the city burned to the ground and the army forced to retreat through hostile territory in the dead of winter. Though the battle may not have been a victory, it marked the beginning of Napoleon's defeat.

This September 7th will mark the 200th Anniversary of the battle celebrated in Tchaikovsky's music.

Though there was a war being fought on American soil in 1812 - this year marking the war's bicentennial - Tchaikovsky's popular overture has nothing to do with it. But during our own Bicentennial, back in 1976, folks at the Boston Pops were looking around for a celebratory piece of music you could end a patriotic concert with, include fireworks and leave everybody cheering. Perhaps it says something of American music that they couldn't find anything by one of our own composers - admittedly, I had found an old copy of something called 'The 1849 Overture' celebrating the California Gold Rush with American folk songs and popular tunes (I specifically remember a grand treatment of "She'll be comin' round the mountain when she comes") that was clearly patterned on Tchaikovsky's score.

So ever since, we've been celebrating American patriotism and our own Independence by hearing the Russian National Anthem blasting out - complete with cannons and church bells - celebrating the defeat of the French army. But, hey...

- Dick Strawser