Packard Band brings patriotic sounds for 4th

Brass Metropolis will ask “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” and the W.D. Packard Concert Band will provide the answer — it’s “4th of July Spectacular” time! — on Monday.

The outdoor performance at Packard Music Hall’s south lawn band shell traditionally is the band’s biggest concert of the year. While patriotic music is prominent, Executive Director Thomas Groth said the concert will include “a little something for everybody,” including one number that will show off the band members’ vocal talents as well as their instrumental abilities.

“We have a new arrangement of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ that features the Packard Dixieland Band with the full band as a vocal chorus,” Groth said. “It’s a nice arrangement, and I think people will like it.”

Frequent guest vocalist Helen Welch will perform “On a Wonderful Day Like Today,” “Wheels of Time,” “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” “That’s All,” “What a Wonderful World” and “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die.”

“She’s great,” Groth said. “Everyone likes her.”

The audience will get a chance to dance on John O’Neill’s “Fourth of July Polka.” Count Basie’s “One O’Clock Jump” will feature band members Jim Garber, piano; Dan Carioti, tenor saxophone; and Russell McQuaide, trumpet, as soloists. And the full band will play selections from Michael Giacchino’s score for the Disney / Pixar animated film “The Incredibles.”

But patriotic fare will dominate the concert conducted by Stephen L. Gage.

The program will open with “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Sydnie Schoening, a Girl Scout with Troop 80386, leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Groth said an early highlight will be “Let Freedom Ring” by Ryan Nowlin. Nowlin now is assistant director of the “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, and the Packard Band commissioned Nowlin to write the fanfare “A Vision and a Dream” in 2008.

“Patriotic music just seems to conjure up goosebumps, and ‘Let Freedom Ring’ is a great opening concert number,” Groth said. “You can’t help but get excited by it.”

A new arrangement of Frank White Meacham’s “American Patrol,” a song popularized by the Glenn Miller Band during World War II, will be played by the Packard Band for the first time. Marches by John Philip Sousa, Thomas Knox’s “American Pageant” and a medley of the songs associated with each branch of the military also are planned along with a couple of surprises.

Performing before the band at 5 p.m. Monday will be the Chicago tribute band Brass Metropolis, which includes members of the W.D. Packard Concert Band. Its set will mix horn-driven hits like “25 or 6 to 4,” “Saturday in the Park” and “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” with popular ballads such as “If You Leave Me Now,” “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” and “You’re My Inspiration.”

“We decided to put everything in one place to make it easier on everyone,” Groth said.

The performance, which is free and made possible by the W.D. Packard trust, will conclude with a fireworks displays presented by Zambelli Fireworks Internationale.

“We appreciate the help from the Warren Fire Department, which oversees everything,” Groth said. “They do a great job making sure everything is safe.”

If you go …

WHAT: “4th of July Spectacular” — Brass Metropolis, the W.D. Packard Concert Band with Stephen L. Gage, conductor, and Helen Welch, vocalist, and fireworks by Zambelli Fireworks Internationale

WHEN: Brass Metropolis at 5 p.m. Monday and the Packard Band at 8 p.m.

WHERE: South lawn band shell of Packard Music Hall, 1703 Mahoning Ave NW, Warren

HOW MUCH: Admission is free and funding is provided by the W.D. Packard trust.


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