It should be very quiet in San Gabriel. Our little city placed a ban on 4th of July fireworks many years ago. Sounds almost un-American doesn’t it? I no longer recall the precise reason they were officially prohibited, but it takes the pressure off–I don’t even think about pulling the group together for a big event.
But I’ll make my own appropriate and patriotic noise.
My musical buttons were enthusiastically pushed earlier this week with a visit to the Hollywood Bowl. One of my good friends invited me to accompany her to Tuesday’s Josh Groban concert–with the Los Angeles Phil.
It couldn’t be a more perfect concert for me. My musical tastes are very eclectic–as you’ll learn when I share the other three performing artists and groups we’re set to see later this summer–but the beautifully controlled power of Groban’s voice, the complex and creative instrumentation supervised by musical director and incredibly gifted guitarist, Tariqh Akoni, blends popular and classical into the most exuberant musical color.
The perfect concert for trying out the Bowl’s new speaker system–if my bones rattle, I’m at my happiest.
Of course the concert was primarily about the headliner, but being the week of the 4th, it opened with the Philharmonic setting a patriotic tone, stirring the audience with musical compositions easily identified by an American audience.
I might not immediately identify the piece Buckaroo Holiday, but within the first measure I sure know it’s Copeland. I couldn’t have stated the title, Colonel Bogey March, but everyone in the audience could whistle the melody made famous in the film, The Bridge Over the River Kwai, and John Williams’ Summon the Heroes is pure John Williams.
An Armed Forces Salute, an arrangement of music of the Armed Forces, energized the audience as the evening’s conductor, Sarah Hicks, invited veterans in the audience to stand for recognition while “their song” played.
This was an American concert, but music transcends borders.
I’m stirred by musical nationalism–rhythms, harmonies and musical motifs inspired by a country or region, whether I’m listening to Chopin as the standard-bearer of Polish nationalism or American Gershwin. Sometimes I just enjoy simple folk tunes with easily identified melodies–immediate recognition when you hear it.
I was quite young when I tuned into the strength and beauty of La Marseillaise–that stirring scene in Casablanca is a standout.
And Blake’s Jerusalem, transformed into one of England’s most beautiful patriotic songs, moves me every time I hear it. I think it’s thrilling.
I am a bit suspicious of any American who doesn’t tear-up at least a little with Ray Charles’ “America the Beautiful.” We all have our patriotic musical touchstones.
So today is my turn up the volume music day–from Souza to Kate Smith. And now that I’m thinking about it, a little Ray Charles.
Music will be my way to celebrate–and think. I’ll give more than a little consideration to why I’m grateful for my country–flawed more than a little bit, but my home.
I can vociferously complain about almost everything associated with American politics, but I feel protective when I hear complaints from outside the country. We’re funny that way!
Wherever you find yourself today, living in the land of your birth or a new home abroad, you have patriotic musical memory.
Would you share what songs or anthems stir your patriotism?
Happy Fourth of July to my fellow Americans, and to my many delightful international friends, it’s always a good day for a little Ray Charles.