Symphony of sight and sound

July 01, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

Elizabeth Schulze has a feeling the weather will be beautiful Saturday, July 3, as she raises her baton on the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's 19th annual Salute to Independence at Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg.

The event has become a local tradition - a way of celebrating America's birth with friends and family, music and fireworks - in a beautiful setting that holds deep meaning for the nation.

The crowd was on the light side last year - about 25,000 to 30,000 people, said John Howard, superintendent at Antietam National Battlefield. With the war in Iraq and the Healing Field display of American flags, he expects a fairly large crowd - as many as 35,000 people.


Schulze, who has signed on as the symphony's music director through 2007-08, begins her sixth season with the battlefield concert.

She said she's been "very, very welcomed" and is thrilled to be a part of this community.

Saturday's program welcomes others with local connections.

Tiffany Hawbaker, Miss Western Maryland, will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" and lead the audience in "Sing Out America."

Corey Evan Rotz, who grew up in Chambersburg, Pa., will perform Aaron Copland's "Old American Songs," traditional tunes, including "Simple Gifts."

The tenor is beginning his 10th season with the Washington, D.C.-based Washington National Opera. He said he's very much looking forward to meeting Schulze and performing "on hallowed ground."

Robert Aubry Davis, public radio and television personality, will return to Antietam for the 12th consecutive year.

Davis will serve as the evening's master of ceremonies and will narrate "Paul Bunyan," written by composer Robert Lichtenberger of Maryland.

Maryland Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Leonid Sushansky will be featured on the final movement of Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1.

Schulze said she wants people to know what the orchestra does the rest of the year. "We'd like to show off a little of the concert hall."

The evening's program will include a flyover by the West Virginia Air National Guard and performances of Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" and John Philip Sousa's "Liberty Bell" and "Stars & Stripes." The big guns of the Maryland National Guard will provide booming accompaniment to Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture while fireworks light the sky.

If you go

Nineteenth annual Salute to Independence with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra

7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 3

Fireworks will begin at approximately 9:45 p.m.

Antietam National Battlefield

Md. 65


There is no admission fee to the park, but donations will be accepted. For every $2 collected, $1 sponsors the event and $1 goes to preserve Antietam National Battlefield.

For information, call 301-797-4000 or visit the Symphony's Web site at

The park's Visitor Center will open as usual at 8:30 a.m., but people are discouraged from bringing belongings to the park grounds before 2 p.m. Coolers, backpacks, bags and other containers left unattended will be subject to inspection. Entry points to concert seating will be designated.

Vehicle access to the battlefield for parking is via Starke Avenue. Restricted parking and vehicle access will be enforced. Handicapped parking will be provided for vehicles displaying proper license plates or placards.

Parking is available in the park, and additional parking can be found on Md. 65 and Md. 34 bordering the park. Wear comfortable shoes. Concertgoers will have to walk to get to and from the event.

County Commuter will provide shuttle bus service for $1 - from the parking lot at National Cemetery on Md. 34 to the concert grounds - but there still will be a 300-yard walk, according to the National Park's Web site at

A blanket, plenty of water or nonalcoholic drinks and a flashlight are recommended for each group.

Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Medical Service will sell food and drinks.

Pets and soliciting are not permitted.

Expect a minimum one-hour to 90-minute traffic delay when leaving the event.

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