A Salute to Independence

MSO concert to mark live debut of 'Gods and Generals' music

MSO concert to mark live debut of 'Gods and Generals' music

July 03, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

Local Civil War expert Dennis Frye isn't sure if he'll attend the 18th annual Salute to Independence at Antietam National Battlefield. If he does, he'll make a point - as he has every other time he's been there - of walking down to the Maryland Symphony Orchestra stage and turning around to look at the audience.

Looking back on the throng of some 30,000 people is a way for Frye to get some perspective on the battle fought on that ground in 1862.

Nearly three-fourths of the people would have been casualties, he says.

It gives him a feeling for what happened at the Battle of Antietam.

Those lives and that battle will be recalled Saturday, July 5, during the 18th annual Salute to Independence.

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra concert of classical and patriotic music will begin at 7:30 p.m.

The evening will mark the beginning of MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze's fifth season. Radio and public television host Robert Aubry Davis will return to serve as the evening's master of ceremonies for the 11th consecutive year. And Gregory Shook will return with the voices of Hagerstown Choral Arts.


Also on hand will be "Gods and Generals" director Ron Maxwell and John Frizzell, composer of the film's music.

"We're thrilled that the composer will be here," Schulze says.

The orchestra will perform "Gods and Generals Suite" - "music made specially for us," Schulze says.

It's exciting, she adds.

Frizzell, along with his wife and daughter, will make his first visit to Antietam National Battlefield.

What an appropriate place for the music to be performed for the first time separate from the film, he says.

The composer, a native of New York, has been in Los Angeles for eight years and scoring movies for six years. He shares composing credits on "Gods and Generals" with Randy Edelman, composer of the score for "Gettysburg."

In writing the film's three hours of music, a film about "a subject as tragic as war, in particular the Civil War," Frizzell says he had to follow his feeling for the music and his feeling for the film.

The music is not particularly of the time of the Civil War. "I really had to go with my gut."

Schulze calls the music "very atmospheric, very descriptive, very tuneful."

"The chorale is in Latin," she adds.

The evening festivities will open with a salute by the Maryland National Guard.

Yes, the big guns of the Maryland National Guard's Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 110th Field Artillery will return to Antietam, absent last year while activated to support the nation's war on terrorism.

The cannons will be back, booming on cue to the rousing music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

The audience can participate, too. The MSO invites people to sing along to a medley of patriotic tunes, and Schulze invites them to bring their "whistling chops." She's looking forward to a 30,000-member chorus for "Colonel Bogey March."

Schulze also says she has reinstituted Aaron Copland's popular "Fanfare for the Common Man."

And, at about 9:45 p.m., against the backdrop of a south county sky, the fanfare of fireworks will begin.

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