GALLIPOLIS — With the Fourth of July on a Wednesday this year, The Ohio Valley Symphony is giving music lovers a reason to celebrate for four days.
For the fourth year, southeast Ohio’s only professional orchestra will cap the holiday celebrations with a free concert — and, of course, fireworks. The performance, at 8 p.m. in the Gallipolis City Park, helps celebrate the nation’s 236th birthday with one of America’s greatest home-grown styles, Dixieland.
The orchestra welcomes special guests the ‘Dukes of Dixieland’ for an evening ranging from traditional jazz to a 21st century mixture of pop, gospel, country and authentic New Orleans sounds. As the oldest continuing Dixieland jazz band, the ‘Dukes’ bring more than 38 years of their own tradition to the Ohio Valley.
The ‘Dukes’ have sold out such venues as the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian. Bright and brassy or smooth and dark as cane syrup, the ‘Dukes’ bring a time-honored authenticity to all of the hits of Dixie’s yesteryear. Since 1975 in Chicago’s Pleasant Park, the ‘Dukes’ have collaborated with orchestras, including the Boston and Cincinnati Pops, with arrangements that play off the two traditions’ strengths.
Listeners can also expect a parade of patriotic music, including Sousa marches. The capstone to the evening will be a special performance of Tchaikovsky’s rousing “1812 Overture” to mark the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s failed invasion of Russia — all leading to a fireworks display. Ray Fowler, the OVS’s founding music director, conducts.
This year’s concert builds on the successful series of outdoor OVS performances, which kicked off the orchestra’s 20th anniversary season. This year’s performance is again the culmination of the city’s annual River Recreation Festival, capping the four-day celebration — and the final day’s day-long lineup of musical acts.
The Fourth of July concert is part of the OVS’s mission to bring great music performed by great artists to the Ohio Valley. The program is dubbed the Summer Elizabeth Concert in honor of OVS volunteer Elizabeth Davidson, who first suggested the idea. The teen’s enthusiasm convinced philanthropist Ann Carson Dater to fund the program.
In case of inclement weather, the concert will be held in the Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre in downtown Gallipolis.