By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor

Bring the entire family to “Celebrate America” on July 3rd at the Clarksburg AMP, a free evening of entertainment featuring music by the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra with fireworks to follow!

Although we have just reached the mid-point of June, the Cultural Foundation of Harrison County has been working diligently for some time to make arrangements to bring a wonderful celebration to the area on July 3rd.

No summer holiday quite matches Independence Day, and nothing distinctively defines this holiday like flags waving, accompanied by patriotic music, and followed by spectacular fireworks!  Thanks to the Cultural Foundation, area residents will have the opportunity to experience all of this.

Plan to celebrate July 4th a day early by attending this outdoor concert at the Clarksburg Amphitheater on Monday, July 3rd that will feature the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra bringing its “Celebrate America” tour to Clarksburg.   WSO’s tour begins on July 1st in Weirton and moves to Canaan Valley for an afternoon performance on July 2nd before they pull into Clarksburg.  Their tour concludes on July 4th in Wheeling.  ALL of their “Celebrate America” stops will offer FREE concerts that are entertaining for all ages.

While the Capitol Theatre in Wheeling is “home” to the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, when WSO Music Director Andre Raphel takes the orchestra on tour, every city they visit makes them feel at “home” by giving them a rousing welcome.   Raphel says the evening’s program will include both patriotic favorites as well as several popular show tunes.

Music will begin at 7:30 p.m. and conclude at dusk with a crescendo of patriotic tunes such as Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” and Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” and, of course, a fireworks display sponsored by Antero Resources.

As a special treat, the orchestra will be joined by guest artist Hugh Panaro, who is perhaps best known for having played the coveted role of the Phantom in Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera more than 2,000 times, including the 25th Anniversary production.  Panaro is one of the few actors to be cast by Harold Prince as both The Phantom and Raoul in the show’s Broadway production.  He has also performed with numerous symphony orchestras including Dallas, Detroit, San Francisco, Seattle Utah Symhonies and the London Sinfonietta, among many others.

Currently in its 87th season, The Wheeling Symphony Orchestra has gained national prominence under eight music directors.  Andre Raphel, in his 14th season with WSO, has established a reputation as an exciting and versatile conductor through his innovative programming, his commitment to American music, and his fresh interpretations.

On the evening of WSO’s “Celebrate America” tour stop in Clarksburg, look forward to an announcement of the exciting lineup for Season II of the Grand Performances arts series sponsored by The Cultural Foundation!

In the event of rain, the July 3rd concert will be held in the auditorium at Robert C. Byrd High School.

Just prior to press time, Phil Wyatt, Cultural Foundation president, confirmed that on the evening of the ‘Celebrate America’ concert by the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, transportation to the amphitheater will be made available by CENTRA bus from downtown Clarksburg at the Harrison County Senior Citizens Center beginning at 6:30 p.m.  Patrons will also be shuttled to the entrance of the Amphitheater from the Splash Zone Pool parking lot.  Return transportation will begin at 9:15 p.m.

The Wheeling Symphony Orchestra’s “Celebrate America” performance in Clarksburg is being sponsored by The Highland Fund, a bequest of the late Barbara B. Highland.  The Cultural Foundation of Harrison County administers the fund and has partnered with the City of Clarksburg, City Parks of Clarksburg, the D’Annunzio Foundation, and Antero Resources to present this event.