The weather was perfect for the thousands who were in attendance at the 36th July Fourth concert by the Central Ohio Symphony, held once again in Phillips Glen on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University. Tom Bosco, multi-media journalist for ABC 6 and Fox 28, served as host of the event and did a superb job. He spoke clearly and concisely and even managed to weave in some personal information.
Mezzo-soprano Meredith Keller, a 2021 graduate from Hayes High School, was the vocalist for three patriotic songs: “Star-Spangled Banner,” “God Bless America,” and “America the Beautiful.” Her virtuosic voice is steady and strong, and she sang with unhurried confidence. She is currently a student at Biola University in La Mirada, California, where she is majoring in Vocal Performance and Public Relations.
The evening kicked off with Paul Dukas’ “Fanfare” from “La Péri” and Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.” Interspersed were several medley arrangements such as Robert Lowden’s “Salute to the Big Apple,” film music from “The Wizard of Oz” and ”Jurassic Park,” and two flamboyant marches by John Philip Sousa. An indispensable tradition was the “Armed Forces Salute,” also arranged by Lowden.
Another iconic tradition was Peter I. Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” Even though the piece celebrates the Russian victory over Napoleon Bonaparte, it has “patriotic significance for all those who strive to live without oppression,” as explained by Bosco. The Symphony did the right thing when it dedicated the performance to the people of Ukraine who are currently fighting an uphill battle against the Russian invasion and occupation. The audience applauded loudly when Bosco made his prepared statement on behalf of the Symphony.
Despite the fact that the concert was held outdoors and focused on folksy music, artistic director and conductor Jaime Morales-Matos saw no reason to compromise on his rigorous musical standards. The Symphony performed smoothly with both passion and precision, as it always does. The brass section, in particular, was often front and center in this celebratory concert.
The Central Ohio Symphony gratefully acknowledges the support of Willow Brook Christian Communities, the City of Delaware, Zangmeister Cancer Center, Mount Carmel Health Systems, the Ohio Arts Council, and Ohio Wesleyan University. The sound system was provided by Jordan Sound, flowers by Miller’s Country Gardens, and trash receptacles by The Kroger Company. The full list of acknowledgments was included in the concert program. The next July Fourth concert is scheduled for Tuesday, July 4, 2023.
On June 28, the Symphony performed another concert at Asbury Methodist Church, with Jaime Morales-Matos conducting. Attendance was limited to 250 special patrons. On the program were two adventurous works by living Ohio composers: Evan Williams’ “Dead White Man Music” and Linda Kernohan’s “Concerto for Theremin and Chamber Orchestra.” Williams’ harpsichord concert shows deep respect and admiration for canonical composers such as Bach, but at the same time it completely reimagines and repurposes the Baroque instruments and traditions. For example, Bach’s wistful “Flow, My Tears” inspired Williams to write a jazzy tune that stands in the African-American Blues tradition. The composer fuses tradition and innovation, past and present, showing a new way forward into the future. Keyboardist Michael Delfin was the masterful harpsichord soloist who produced ferocious sounds on his instrument that I have never heard before.
Kernohan’s theremin concertino in one movement was similarly fascinating. The theremin is a rarely heard electronic instrument invented by Russian-born physicist Lev Termen, known in the West as Leon Theremin. The soloist was the versatile musician Caroline Scruggs who became smitten by the otherworldly instrument five years ago. She explained to the audience how the instrument operates and the unique functions of the right hand and left hand. It sure was an unforgettable evening, and it was gratifying to see that the captivated audience wholeheartedly embraced both works despite their unconventionality. Delaware is fortunate to have a critical mass of sophisticated concertgoers with a deep appreciation for classical music.
During the June 28 concert, Executive Director Warren Hyer also announced the capacious program of the upcoming 2022/23 season, the Symphony’s 44th. On the program are several major works: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. Other beloved works include Bruch’s Violin Concerto, de Falla’s Three-Cornered Hat, and Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances.” Of course, there will also be a healthy number of representative works from modern and living composers as exciting new music continues to be created and performed. The complete brochure will be mailed out soon. You can also check the Symphony’s website (www.centralohiosymphony.org) for concert recordings, performance updates, and ticket information.