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MSO presents 'Salute to Independence'

July 04, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

For the past 13 years on a night in early December, Antietam National Battlefield has been illuminated with the glow of 23,110 candles, luminaires lighted in memory of casualties of the single bloodiest day in American history.

For the past 16 years on a night in early July, the fields of that hallowed ground have been filled with the sounds of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra in its annual "Salute to Independence."

This year's event, on Saturday, July 6, will be different in some ways from celebrations of past years.

The world changed September 11. America's homeland was attacked. We are at war, says Elizabeth Schulze, MSO music director.

The concert will be in memory of those who have been lost, Schulze says. The concert is dedicated to the men and women of the armed forces who are protecting America's freedom from terrorism as the country celebrates Independence Day.


Schulze expects the evening to be especially poignant.

But, she adds, it also is important to celebrate all the good things that are America.

The program will include classical and patriotic music - "The Star-Spangled Banner" and John Philip Sousa marches; John Williams' "Summon the Heroes" and Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man."

Leonid Sushansky, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's concertmaster, will be the featured soloist on Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, Fourth Movement, and the orchestra will play Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings," which has been called the unofficial American anthem of mourning.

"We're trying to just sort of reflect what's going on," Schulze says.

And part of "what's going on" is America's going on - staying the course and celebrating the nation's independence - surviving and thriving as the country has for more than two and a quarter centuries.

Robert Aubry Davis, a WETA FM radio and WETA TV 26's personality, will serve as master of ceremonies for the 10th "Salute to Independence."

For the first time several brass players from Washington County school orchestras will be featured with the MSO.

"We want to include the community," Schulze says.

Antietam National Battlefield Chief Ranger Ed Wenschhof is expecting the typical crowd of 20,000 to 30,000 attendees. "Everyone's feeling patriotic," he says. But crowd size may have something to do with how safe people are feeling, he adds. Security has been increased, and pedestrian access has been tightened, he says.

The weather, of course, is a critical factor. Wenschhof won't venture a forecast.

MSO Executive Director Marc D. Levy is hoping for a duplicate of last year's weather. "If it's a day that beautiful, I'll be thrilled."

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