BSO's outdoor show dazzles

Concert: At the fourth annual Star-Spangled Celebration, the audience sang along and danced as the orchestra and local groups performed.

July 01, 1999|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It was an evening that made you want to dance in the grass -- and kids did.

It was an evening that made you want to sing with the orchestra -- and grown-ups did.

The fourth annual Star-Spangled Celebration by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Saturday was surely magic-sprinkled as well as star-spangled.

The pre-July Fourth event, at Anne Arundel Community College, attracted 6,500 people. Local groups played for two delightful hours before the headliner BSO performance began.

The Crabtowne Big Band, led by Bill Yakaitis, offered a groovy "In the Mood" and concluded with a knockout "Jumpin' at the Woodside." Annapolis Chorale director J. Ernest Green led the always-elegant -- even in T-shirts and chinos -- singers in a medley of Cole Porter tunes -- "Every Time We Say Goodbye" tugged at the heartstrings.

The Annapolis Vocal Corps brought their distinctive a cappella harmonies to "Willie and the Poor Boys" and a spirited barbershop rendition of "Bye, Bye Blues." Three girls from Maryland Sings, a new group on the program, offered a lively three-part-harmony version of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."

Under the direction of assistant conductor Daniel Hege, the BSO took center stage at 8: 15 p.m., with patriotic selections in the first half followed by a move to outer space with "Star Wars" in the second. Hege charmed the crowd with his informality and warmth.

From the lilting strains of Leroy Anderson's "Belle of the Ball Waltz" to Eric Knight's arrangement of "Americana Overture," the evening was filled with glorious sound. Richard Hayman's "Sing Out America!" inspired those of us in lawn seats up close to join in singing the familiar songs.

Hearing the BSO's romantic "People Will Say We're in Love" made me want to dance on the grass. Less-inhibited young children did, jumping and twirling on the wide steps in front of the orchestra, lending unique charm to the evening.

Few experiences can match being up close to a great symphony orchestra, having nothing but air separating the audience from the music; no reverberation, no reflection -- just pure music touching the soul. And it got even better in the second half when we were dazzled by "Star Wars" fireworks lighting the sky.

Although Hege is moving to the Syracuse Symphony, he will remain with the BSO as assistant conductor for two years. The warm reception he and the orchestra received, including three standing ovations, should encourage him to return to Anne Arundel before he leaves.

Pub Date: 7/01/99

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