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4th of July music festival delivers the WOW!

City band, WASO combine for Wind, Water and WOW on July 4

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The "Amazing" Worthington City Band performs under the direction of Mike Peterson on June 8, 2022 in Worthington's Chautauqua Park.
Tim Middagh / The Globe<br/>
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WORTHINGTON — Each July 4th, the “National Emblem March” leads off the “Amazing” Worthington City Band’s concert program, and that will hold true in 2022.

But, wow! With a new holiday start time of 7 p.m. and an expanded evening of music from the band, as well as the Worthington Area Symphony Orchestra (WASO) and local music legend Paul Summers LaRoche, attendees can anticipate a celebratory few hours.

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“We’re calling it the ‘Wind, Water and WOW!’ music festival, and it’s essentially a musical celebration of our past, present and future,” said Kris Stewart, a flutist in both the city band and WASO and a leadership team member of the latter ensemble.

The historic Chautauqua Park bandshell will host this musical extravaganza of pops, light classical and patriotic music, and the bandshell — recently restored and gussied up to show off its acoustic and architectural beauty — is in itself a featured star of the night.

“Kudos to the Worthington parks department,” said Beth Habicht, a WASO string player and leadership team member.

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“Chautauqua Park is such a beautiful place, and since 2022 marks the 75th anniversary of our sister city relationship with Crailsheim and the 150th birthday of Worthington, there couldn’t be a more appropriate place for our concert than the Chautauqua Park bandshell.”

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Paul Summers LaRoche
Special to The Globe

Indeed, WASO is dedicating its own first number — the “March from 1941” by acclaimed American composer John Williams — to the bandshell, which was constructed in 1941 and received national historic site designation a few years ago.

“The bandshell’s continued charm on the edge of Lake Okabena is worth noting,” said Habicht.

Mike Peterson, conductor of the “Amazing” Worthington City Band for the past several years, is prepared to lead his troupe of about 50 instrumentalists in what he says is their annual patriotic concert.

“The city band, with its 128-year history, adds a sense of tradition to the community, and this new music festival gives us impetus to start something fresh as we move into the future with music that’s easily accessible and enjoyable for people to listen to in an atmosphere that’s also engaging,” said Peterson.

Music, food and face painting

On what organizers hope will be a lovely summer night, the public can enjoy music from 7 to 9:15 p.m. and also indulge in food (available for purchase from on-site vendors) and free face painting for kids (courtesy of Gail Holinka).

“There will definitely be a festival feel,” said Stewart, emphasizing that the extended concert period will provide a more natural segue to the fireworks scheduled to follow shortly thereafter.

Added Habicht, “It’s all very family-oriented.”

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WASO conductor Christopher Stanichar, whose orchestra of 50 is primed for this outdoor performance, assures his program selections contain something to suit everyone’s musical tastes.

Having served as an assistant conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra some years ago, Stanichar is well positioned to present a diverse program highlighting various aspects of the United States on its birthday.

“I chose pieces from composers who represent the American dream in different ways,” said Stanichar, mentioning “Conga del Fuego” by Arturo Marquez and music from the hit movie “Austin Powers” by Quincy Jones as examples of the diversity on display.

“Quincy Jones is the most successful and well-known black composer in Hollywood,” he added. “This is going to be a fun program.”

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Habicht points to “The Orange Blossom Special,” a medley of songs from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” suite and the lighthearted “The Typewriter” (featuring Brett Cooper on … a typewriter) from fabled American composer Leroy Anderson as her concert favorites.

“And Paul Summers LaRoche will join the orchestra as we back him up on two of his original compositions, ‘Star People’ and ‘Dakota Rainstorm,’” said Habicht.

LaRoche, a Worthington High School graduate and nationally renowned Native American musician along with his band Brule, has recently returned to reside in Worthington and was one of the catalysts behind “Wind, Water and WOW.”

“I have a vision for things here,” said LaRoche, “and when I brought this up a while back, everyone got on board. “We’re thrilled to at least try this for a first season.”

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Old-time fans of LaRoche’s former Worthington nightclub (Paul’s Place) from several decades back may be delighted to hear the July 4th lineup will include a number or two from that long-ago playlist.

“I’m not going to reveal (in advance) what I’ll perform, but I will play some stuff from the past,” promised LaRoche, who is the night’s special musical guest.

“In a weird way, this bridges the gap between the past, the present and the future,” he continued. “I’m just trying to show there’s a hometown kid coming back here who’s part of the Native American minority community, both pulling from mainstream music I’ve done in the past and more importantly sharing with the orchestra what I’ve been doing musically in the modern era as a Native American musician.”

LaRoche emphasizes that the collaborations he and Brule have shared with WASO in recent years are far more unique than local residents might realize.

“Native American contemporary music with symphony orchestras is on the cutting edge of the last musical frontier,” said LaRoche, “and the only places it’s happened within the United States as far as I know are with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra and WASO — it’s very rare.”

Stanichar and Peterson are eager to share their ensemble’s musical gifts with the greater Worthington community on July 4.

“We hope people will attend,” said Peterson, “because we think they’ll enjoy the quality music.”

“It’s definitely going to be fun to hear all these different composers, with Paul’s music helping bring in the fireworks,” said Stanichar.

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“The entire show is built on the audience having the absolute best time,” said Tammy Makram of the upcoming Elvis ROCK ‘N Remember show.

Added LaRoche, “This is a city celebration that embraces American history and democracy.”

“Wind, Water and WOW,” featuring the “Amazing” Worthington City Band, the Worthington Area Symphony Orchestra and Paul Summers LaRoche, takes place from 7 to 9:15 p.m. Monday, at Worthington’s Chautauqua Park. The festival, which includes food vendors and free face painting, is free and open to the public.

The “Amazing” Worthington City Band will also be in concert at its usual starting time of 7:30 p.m. tonight and July 6, also at Chautauqua Park.

Related Topics: WORTHINGTONMUSICEDUCATION
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