By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
Every American enjoys celebrating the 4th of July! And it is certainly not uncommon for these celebrations to include music. This year, the area is in for a real treat … the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra (WSO) is returning to Clarksburg!
The WSO was here last year for an Independence Day performance as well, but unfortunately, it concluded after three musical numbers due to rain.
“I don’t believe I have ever witnessed the skies opening up like they did last year for our outdoor concert,” said Dolores Yoke, spokesperson for the Cultural Foundation of Harrison County who sponsors this event. “It was truly a severe rainstorm and had people running for cover.”
Although it was no fault of their own, the Wheeling Symphony wanted to make up for their hasty departure, and they have returned to Clarksburg twice since that time – once performing a brass concert, and more recently with a strings concert.
The Cultural Foundation of Harrison County invites everyone in the area to share this evening of patriotic music on Saturday, July 2nd at 7:30 p.m. at the Clarksburg Amphitheater in the VA Park. The event is free to the public and has open seating.
This year, however, alternate arrangements have been made just in case the weather is again uncooperative! In the event of rain, the concert will be held at Robert C. Byrd High School’s auditorium, Yoke emphasized.
Rising Broadway, Country Music and X-Factor star Rachel Potter will be joining the orchestra during its Celebrate America tour, which includes four stops during this summer holiday season. The tour begins in Weirton … next stop is Clarksburg … followed by a performance at Canaan Valley … and concluding in their own city of Wheeling.
Ms. Potter was a top 12 finalist on the X-Factor and is currently a Nashville based country music recording artist and songwriter. She has also appeared on Broadway in the revival of “Evita”, “The Addams Family” and “Wicked”. She is scheduled to appear as the female soloist with the Phoenix and Anchorage Symphonies as well.
In addition, concert attendees are in store for yet another treat this year! Acting upon the suggestion of Mrs. Katie Crim, an art teacher at RCB, the Cultural Foundation is also bringing renowned performance painter Rachel Kice from California to join the evening’s music and add a visual component to the concert experience. Kice will create a 4ft. by 4ft. acrylic painting onstage during the performance. She has created paintings onstage with popular American music artist including Kid Rock, Willie Nelson, Jewel and Jon Bon Jovi.
“This has never before been done in this area and it is a new aspect for the Wheeling Symphony to have this done while they perform!” Yoke added. “This will be an exciting addition to our 4th of July celebration, and we are able to do this because of Barbara B. Highland’s gift to us for the performing arts.”
Yoke also explained that the Cultural Foundation is working closely with the VA to accommodate patients at both the VA hospital and the VA nursing facility located adjacent to the AMP.
“Because it is so close, we welcome those patients to attend this celebration. And those who are not able to leave these facilities will be taken to an area with a large window view so they can witness the concert and fireworks from indoors. Ms. Kice will also do an art project involving the patients while she is in Clarksburg,” Mrs. Yoke continued.
This concert typically draws a large crowd and some may view parking as a difficulty. However, CENTRA is stepping up to help eliminate that stress. CENTRA buses will begin at 6:30 p.m. transporting people to the AMP entrance from downtown Clarksburg’s Senior Center. This service is free of charge! And return transportation will begin at 9:15 p.m.
Mrs. Yoke further added, “Even those who park near the Splash Zone can take advantage of being shuttled to the AMP entrance. Those who prefer to walk will appreciate the fact that the walkway from the pool to the AMP is now a paved walkway and they won’t have to walk through the lawn. We’ve tried to make it as convenient as possible for our attendees.”
WSO music director Andre Raphel commented, “Our annual July tour – ‘Celebrate America’ – is a great patriotic celebration that features music that is rooted in the American spirit. It will include marches by Sousa, anthems, Broadway show tunes and some of several patriotic favorites.”
Make plans to attend this special evening on Saturday, July 2nd and celebrate America! Fireworks will conclude the evening, a donation from Antero Resources.