Have a blast for free with the symphony on Saturday

Greenville News Full Article from Greenville News Online

By Paul Hyde: June 29, 2016

You can’t keep a good orchestra down.

The Greenville Symphony’s big outdoor Independence Day concert at Heritage Park Amphitheatre in 2014 was rained out — stormed out actually. There was little music and no fireworks — unless you count the bursts of thunder and flashes of lightning in the sky.

“It was terrible,” said the orchestra’s music director Edvard Tchivzhel. “We weren’t able to perform anything. We waited and waiting. It was very bad.”

Last year, the event didn’t take place at all.

But this Saturday, Tchivzhel and the orchestra will return to Simpsonville’s Heritage Park Amphitheatre with much of the same musical program and fireworks planned for 2014. They’ll be hoping for a much more pleasing outcome.

One big change this year: The mostly all-American program is absolutely free.

The concert spotlights music by Sousa, Copland, Bernstein, John Williams and Richard Rodgers.

“We’ll be playing a lot of patriotic music, Broadway selections and big band music,” Tchivzhel said.

Of course, there’s one non-American featured: Tchaikovsky. The Russian composer’s “1812 Overture” will usher in the fireworks toward the end of the concert.

Tchaikovsky wrote the “1812 Overture” to celebrate the Russians clobbering Napoleon’s invading army in 1812, but the orchestral showpiece, with its rousing music and cannon blasts, has become a popular fixture on Independence programs.

“It forever belongs to Independence Day in America,” Tchivzhel said.

Don’t be surprised if you see musicians putting in earplugs before the “1812 Overture.”

“We have 12 real cannons and they’re quite loud,” Tchivzhel said.

The program opens with medleys by Morton Gould and Richard Rodgers as well as Copeland’s “Hoe-Down” from his ballet “Rodeo.”

The first half of the program concludes with a sing-along called “Sing Out America.” The second half of the program will feature John Williams’ “Main Title” music from “Star Wars” and excerpts from Bernstein’s musical “West Side Story.” The program also includes a tribute called “Armed Forces Salute,” during which veterans and those currently serving are invited to stand and be recognized while the military themes are playing.

“It’s a special homage to veterans and those who serve now,” Tchivzhel said.

The concert offers a nod to the big band music of the 1930s and 40s with a medley called “Here Come the Bands.”

The show concludes with the dazzling fireworks display as the orchestra performs Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

The concert is particularly meaningful for Tchivzhel, who defected from the Soviet Union in 1991 and became an American citizen in 1999.

“For me personally, I celebrate my own independence from the oppressive regime of the Soviet Union,” Tchivzhel said. “This year, I’m celebrating my 25th year of my new life in this beautiful country.”

Concert-goers may bring chairs and blankets to the concert, but cannot bring food into the park, Greenville Symphony officials said. There will be food and drink vendors on site.

In addition to the concert, the event will include military vehicles, a rock climbing wall, a military jump team and a Flag Retirement Ceremony by the Boy Scouts of America. Doors open at 5 p.m. and events begin at 6 p.m. The concert starts at 8 p.m.

The event is sponsored by The City of Simpsonville, Greenville County and Greenville Health System.

Follow Paul Hyde on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.