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Blossom Music Center

Blossom Music Center

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By LAURA KENNELLY Tempo ColumnistEDITOR'S NOTE: Cleveland Orchestra's Star-Spangled Spectacular Community Concert and Festival will be on Thursday, although its theme is Fourth of July, as listed in yesterday's main Tempo story.

The Cleveland Orchestra will perform its 20th annual free concert on Public Square starting at 9 p.m.

Thursday.Fireworks, concerts and picnics mean explosively fun times are shaping up for the long holiday weekend ahead in Westlake, Cleveland and Cuyahoga Falls.The biggest event on the list must be the free holiday concert that features a star-spangled program by the Cleveland Orchestra Thursday.Conducted by Loras John Schissel in Cleveland's Public Square at 9 p.m.

Thursday (not actually Fourth of July), the concert traditionally draws a crowd of thousands every year.

There will also be a pre-concert festival starting at 5:30 p.m."Everyone likes a public patriotic celebration," said Ana Papakhian, Cleveland Orchestra director of public relations.

"This is a way to do it in such a great fashion.

It's the Cleveland Orchestra's 20th annual concert."Papakhian, who still feels new to the area after her first year in Cleveland, said this is only her second big July holiday concert here.

"There's no greater platform for the orchestra than a concert for more than 70,000 people," she said.

"People will come as early as noon to set up picnics at the best sites."Does it bother her the Fourth of July concert is not really on July 4? "No, it's just the start of a great weekend," she laughed.

She noted events continue for the Orchestra at Blossom with performances there Friday to July 5 (see below).The "Star-Spangled Spectacular Community Concert and Festival" shows Cleveland institutions at their best.

It's sponsored by the citizens of Cuyahoga County and the Board of County Commissioners through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture with additional support provided by The Cleveland Foundation, The Avenue at Tower City Center, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and media partners WVIZ/PBS and 90.3 WCPN ideastream.Star sopranoThe Cleveland Orchestra concert Thursday, directed by Loras John Schissel, features soprano Angela Brown making her first appearance in Cleveland."I am so excited about this!" Brown said.

"I've always had The Cleveland Orchestra on my radar as a very important orchestra in American that I would like to do music with.

It's an honor."Brown has appeared most recently in Paris at the Opera Bastille.

Before that, she performed with the National Metropolitan Opera Council Audition Winner (1997) and has sung in Carnegie Hall and at other distinguished venues.Papakhian, who saw Brown years ago performing in the Moses Hogan Chorale in New Orleans, said Brown is "truly a diva, and she also sings spiritual music."At Public Square, Brown will sing Gershwin's "Summertime," giving a little preview of the fuller concert at Blossom later in the week.

She'll also sing "Someone to Watch Over Me" and the spiritual "He's Got The Whole World in His Hands."Other works on the program include ones by Elmer Bernstein's "Overture: The Magnificent Seven," Richard Rodgers' "Sound of Music" and Irving Berlin's "God Bless America." Of course, "The 1812 Overture" will conclude the concert and usher in the fireworks behind and in front of Terminal Tower.Pre-show programMusic starts well before the orchestra concert with a pre-show hosted by radio personality Dee Perry.

The first pre-concert ensemble at 5 p.m.

is a steel drum band (7 Mile Isle).

"That should get people into a good mood," Papakhian said.Papakhian explained the Orchestra always tries to rotate different local groups each year.

"We want to showcase the different types of music in Cleveland, and it's a wonderful place to do that as people arrive for the festivities."Other groups scheduled include Catwalk Blue, What's Next Quartet and the Bill Ransom Quartet.In addition to the musical performances, Tower City Center will offer a free arts festival inside the mall from 10 a.m.

to 7 p.m.

The arts festival will feature the handmade works of local and national artisans.The Cleveland Orchestra's "Star-Spangled Spectacular" will be broadcast live at 9 p.m.

on 90.3 WCPN and WCLV 104.9 FM.Blossom Fourth of JulyThe 4th of July celebration continues at the Cleveland Orchestra's summer home at Blossom Music Center with 8 p.m.

performances on both Friday and Saturday by the Blossom Festival Band with Schissel conducting.The program will be an old-fashioned band concert called "Salute to the USA," featuring popular patriotic tunes such as John Philip Sousa marches.

Fireworks will follow.The closing event for the big weekend at Blossom will be a 7 p.m.

concert next Sunday by The Cleveland Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus led by Robert Porco.Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" will highlight the program.

Soprano Angela Brown sings the female roles from the opera.Rodrick Dixon, tenor, and Lester Lynch, baritone, will join Brown in making their Blossom debuts singing in selections from "Porgy and Bess."In addition, the Orchestra will play Copland's "Simple Gifts" and "At the River" from Copland's "Old American Songs." "Spirituals" (for strings) by Gould is also on the program.A new and family-friendly touch has been added to Blossom this year: Lawn tickets for children ages 11 and younger are free (two children per paid adult).

In addition, lawn ticket holders may choose between the grass or designated sections in the Pavilion.Regular tickets are $19 to $42.

Lawn tickets are also sold in books of 10 tickets for $130.Blossom is located at 1145 West Steels Corners in Cuyahoga Falls.

For more information on Blossom and the downtown Cleveland concert, call (800) 686-1141.Pops pops back into Crocker Park for freeCloser to home, but just as economical (meaning free), is the Cleveland Pops Orchestra in Westlake.Carl Topilow, who also conducts the Firelands Symphony Orchestra, will lead the Pops at 5:30 p.m.

in the July 4 American Liberty Fest '09 at Crocker Park.The free Cleveland Pops Orchestra Concert will feature special guest Shoshana Bean from Broadway's hit musical "Wicked."The Pops concert will conclude a day of entertainment featuring the Westlake Spirt Parade, a Chalk Art Festival, a classic car show and carnival rides.Of course, Fireworks will conclude the evening at Clague Park.Crocker Park is located at 189 Crocker Park Blvd., Westlake.

For more information, call 440-871-6880.
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