Philadelphia Orchestra Performs for July Fourth

The Philadelphia Orchestra celebrated the Fourth of July by hosting a special “Let Freedom Ring” virtual performance on July 2, in partnership with the Wawa Welcome America Festival. 

Featuring chamber and full-ensemble selections, the Orchestra’s 45-minute concert spotlighted Philadelphia’s role as the birthplace of American independence through a mix of traditional pieces and hidden gems. 

Taking center stage, the Phillie Phanatic opened the performance by conducting a rendition of Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now,” best known as the theme of the Rocky franchise. The Orchestra continued playing popular patriotic hits throughout the first half of the program, such as Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom” and an all-brass arrangement of John Philip Sousa’s “Liberty Bell March.” The first half of the program also featured special guest Steve Martin, an actor and comedian, accompanying the Orchestra on banjo in playing his composition “Office Supplies.”

The Orchestra transitioned to a classical-oriented repertoire in the second half of the program, performing chamber and full-ensemble renditions of legendary pieces by Leonard Bernstein, Claude Debussy, Sergei Rachmaninoff and more. 

Many attendees enjoyed how the Orchestra created a personal connection with the audience despite not being able to host the concert in a traditional in-person format. Fans loved watching the musicians perform from their own homes and appreciated that the Orchestra visually edited the concert to reflect each song’s tone and tempo. This culminated during the finale, Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise,”, when the Orchestra virtually lit up the city by placing videos of individual performers over the Philadelphia skyline. The Orchestra was able to perform this piece through the support of Tatiana Copeland, the daughter of Rachmaninoff’s niece.  

Global Philadelphia Association will celebrate the Philadelphia Orchestra by honoring Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the fifth annual World Heritage City Celebration. Hosted virtually on September 10, this event will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the World Heritage City Project and mark GPA’s 10th year of business. Click here for more information on the Philadelphia Orchestra and here for more information about the 2020 World Heritage City Celebration. 

Article written by Samantha Anthony on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association.