A salute to patriotism, with a few long pauses

Concert: AACC's Independence Day event is enjoyable, but delays and a dearth of local acts disappoint some.

Arundel Live

Arts and entertainment in Anne Arundel County

July 08, 2005|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Despite the long delays between sets and the relative lack of home-grown entertainment than in past years, the Independence Day concert hosted by Anne Arundel Community College was an enjoyable, patriotic event.

Two performance groups preceded the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra on Saturday onto the Siegert Field stage at the Arnold campus. The Anne Arundel Community College Jazz Singers, led by Douglas Byerly, opened the program at 4:30 p.m., and contemporary Latin group Solazo went on about an hour after the community college singers finished.

It was another hour before ASO took the stage.

Lt. Col. John Clanton conducted the ASO, joined by the U.S. Army Chorus, in a lively performance of American classics by John Philip Sousa, Aaron Copland, Leroy Anderson, John Williams and others. The male chorus added distinction and power to inspire patriotic fervor when it joined the musicians in performing "The Star-Spangled Banner" to open the concert.

The hometown musicians delivered Copland's "Rodeo Suite" with the sound of whips cracking in their animated rendition. They seemed at home with the all-American sound of Anderson in his "Belle of the Ball," "Syncopated Clock" and "Fiddle-Faddle," capturing his wit and melodic freshness in these treasured pieces commissioned in the 1950s by Arthur Fiedler of the Boston Pops.

Providing its own rhythmic vocal accompaniment, the Army Chorus offered an a cappella segment filled with harmonies supported by a strong, bass-voiced foundation. Selections included a heartfelt version of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," Stephen Foster's spirited "Camptown Races," and the classic "Soon Ah Will Be Done."

The orchestra joined the chorus for a rousing "Battle Hymn of the Republic" that had many on their feet in appreciation. Other noteworthy moments included Williams' "Main Theme from Star Wars," enhanced by an impromptu ballet by several children at the bandstand, and an "Armed Forces Medley," a salute to the veterans in the audience of about 10,000. They stood at attention as their anthems were played.

The evening ended with Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," which was accompanied by an impressive fireworks display. The music continued with Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever."

Although this event - following a tradition that began in 1996 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra - was much improved over ASO's first attempt last year, some missed such hometown favorites as Crabtowne Big Band, the Annapolis Chorale and others who in years past provided nonstop entertainment before the BSO musicians - wearing formal white jackets - took the stage.

The ASO musicians didn't even wear white shirts of uniform sleeve lengths.

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