Music, Fireworks, Celebration: Charlotte Symphony Plays Truist Field
Warm weather. The sun setting as the multicolored lights on Charlotte’s tallest buildings flicker on. Classical music rising on the breeze.
That’s the atmosphere the Charlotte Symphony is hoping to set Friday night for its “Celebrate America” concert at Truist Field, helping people ease into the Fourth of July holiday week.
“This is our end-of-season blowout concert,” said Charlotte Symphony President and CEO David Fisk. “... We wanted to go out with a spectacular performance.”
Conductor Christopher James Lees will lead 56 musicians as they perform patriotic works, including works by Leroy Anderson, Aaron Copeland, Percy Grainger, Marvin Hamlisch and Duke Ellington.
The event will open with a performance of “Fanfare for Democracy,” written by Jim Stephenson, which premiered at the 2021 presidential inauguration, and it will end with three Philip Sousa marches, including “Stars and Stripes Forever.” And yes, there will be fireworks.
“Celebrate America” will also feature Morton Gould’s “American Salute” and John Williams’ “With Malice Towards None” in honor of front line workers and those who lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It's also an appreciation to everybody who's helped us get through the season and a chance for us to say a huge thank you to all of our front line health care workers and other essential service workers for getting us all through this pandemic,” Fisk said. “I think for many people who are beginning to experience their first performances, their first events since the pandemic, this is a great way to have a family night out.”
As of Tuesday, more than 3,500 people had already bought tickets. And Fisk says the performance has room for about 5,000 fans total. That’s a lot more than the last time the Charlotte Symphony played at Truist, back in October as COVID-19 still had a strong grip on North Carolina and capacity was limited to 1,700 people.
In fact, it’s the biggest in-person crowd the symphony has performed for since the start of the pandemic.
“For us, that’s what it’s all about,” Fisk said. “There’s nothing like live performances, as you know. And it’s going to feel really good to have that many people back together again feeling safe.”
But the symphony hasn’t been silent during the pandemic, either. Virtual performances have been happening all along, and so have some smaller outdoor concerts. In March, the symphony played its first major concert at Belk Theater since the start of the pandemic, and in recent months the symphony has ventured out to smaller venues around town, including performances at breweries.
Just last week, the symphony helped kick off Monroe Road Advocates’ 2021 Thursdays Live events with a performance at the Embrace sculpture outside Edge City Brewing, something Fisk called a “super relaxed way of listening to music.”
“We had a couple hundred people there, and everybody was enjoying themselves, either listening attentively to music or just enjoying it, holding a beer with it going on in the background,” Fisk said. “We let people choose how they wanted to listen.”
Fisk says the symphony plans to hold similar performances in neighborhoods throughout the county soon. For now, the musicians will be taking a bit of a summer break and preparing for a full fall season that, they hope, will be more like the pre-COVID days.
But first there’s that end-of-the-season blowout Friday in uptown.
In Fisk’s words:
“What a way to ring in the Fourth of July.”
The show starts at 8:30 p.m. Here’s more information, including about how to get tickets.