There’s something about the Fourth of July that just sets the minds of classical-music programmers racing. The fact that they all race to pretty much the same destination is merely an indication that they all know where their target audience is.
Other than around the Christmas holidays, when a slightly different shipment of populist sentimentality gets off-loaded at the concert halls, Independence Day represents the classical-music crowd’s big chance, at least here in the U.S., to show that they’re not a bunch of effete arugula-grazing snobs sipping tea from Meissen porcelain cups with pinkies extended and listening to the sort of tinkly 18th-century minuets that get the average NASCAR-loving Toby Keith fan unstrapping a shotgun from the rack in the rear window of his F-150 pickup. What says patriotism, Rambo-style, more than setting off explosives and aerial incendiaries during fire season?
- Las Vegas Philharmonic July 4th Spectacular featuring Brent Barrett
- July 4, 8 p.m. Hills Park, doors open at 4:30 p.m. 702-895-2787
- Las Vegas Philharmonic
Our own Las Vegas Philharmonic upholds the grand old tradition this Friday evening at Hills Park in Summerlin. The Phil’s musicians have been playing in top-notch form all season long under their new conductor, David Itkin, so it’s unlikely that they’ll slack off for the pop bon-bons on the program, even if the music is less than pedigreed high-culture heavyweights. The great thing about a mixed bill of short pieces is that even if you can’t stand some particular item, it’s only a few minutes until something else comes along—whereas if you’re stuck in your seat at the beginning of, say, the Mahler 8th, it’s going to be a while before things change.
Hills Park is ideally set up for another Independence Day tradition, picnicking on the grass. Being able to load up on the carbs while leaning on one elbow and listening to more-than-decent music is at least one definition of low- to high-cultural heaven. The LV Phil’s roster of patriotic plus Broadway-and-immediate-neighborhood hits will be abetted by tenor Brent Barrett, fresh from his recently concluded gig in Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular. As the audiences at the Venetian discovered, he’s got the innate charm and vocal talent to put a fresh gloss on songs you think you might have heard enough times already.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a completely American celebration without the de rigueur Russian composition depicting hostilities against the French. Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” will get a no-doubt spirited workout from Maestro Itkin and his crew, while the visuals are taken care of by master pyrotechnicians Zambelli Fireworks Internationale.
Independence Day is always a good time to reflect upon the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, who would have agreed that some things are better left to professionals. Stay at home with your iPod and risk losing an eye to one of those bottle rockets you smuggled back from the Indian reservation, or go out for the big sounds and big show. It’s your choice, Freedom Boy.