A Virtual July 4 Spectacular!

Celebrating this great nation is a little different this year. Though we’re not able to enjoy the Fourth in the great outdoors, Pacific Symphony invites the worldwide web to join together online for patriotic favorites, fireworks and musical festivities. Music Director Carl St.Clair has re-imagined the Fourth, creating a streaming 50-minute program that captures the sense of a free-wheeling summer celebration that is a star-spangled 244th birthday party for America. Pacific Symphony’s first-ever virtual Independence Day concert will be available online on July 4 at 6 p.m. Beginning at that time, the concert can be viewed by signing in with an email address at our concert webpage here and will be available on demand for 45 days after that.

This July 4th Celebration is dedicated to the frontline healthcare workers, who inspire us with their strength and bravery in caring for their fellow Americans. The program also recognizes two great Americans, Charlie and Ling Zhang, for the countless ways they have supported Pacific Symphony and the advancement of music education. 

The program, hosted by Music Director Carl St.Clair and Principal Pops Conductor Richard Kaufman, opens with video footage of a rousing rendition of St.Clair conducting Pacific Symphony musicians in “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Angels Stadium last summer. Richard Kaufman conducts John Williams’ “Midway March” from the soundtrack to the classic World War II motion picture “Midway.” The program continues with “76 Trombones” from Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man,” and Kaufman will read the results from this year’s Nathan’s Famous Hot-Dog Eating Contest, the traditional annual competition that takes place on Coney Island every Fourth of July. Selections from Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: A Dream of America” follow as well as a musical salute to the armed forces. Renowned country music star, Lee Greenwood, who was the headliner for last season’s popular “Hail to the Heroes” concert, makes a guest appearance with a special message and song selection specifically for Pacific Symphony audiences.

The concert concludes with a moving mosaic video featuring members of Pacific Chorale and American Feel Young Chorus singing “America the Beautiful,” accompanied by Pacific Symphony, followed by the grand finale: a spectacular fireworks extravaganza orchestrated to “The Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa.

Tune Into “Ellis Island: The Dream Of America” This Friday!

Program Made Possible by Generous Support from The Ellis Island Honors Society

PBS’s Great Performances and Pacific Symphony, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, pay tribute to America’s history and celebrate the historic American immigrant experience with a special Independence Day weekend program of composer Peter Boyer’s Grammy-nominated contemporary classical work “Ellis Island: The Dream of America,” broadcast nationally on PBS on Friday, July 3 at 9 p.m. (PDT).

Using texts from the Ellis Island Oral History Project and historic Ellis Island images in combination with an original orchestral score, “Ellis Island” features seven, first-hand stories of immigrants dramatically interpreted by guest stars Barry Bostwick, Camryn Manheim, Michael Nouri, Lesley Fera, Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, Samantha Sloyan and Kira Sternbach. Over 40 percent of the U.S. population can trace their ancestry through Ellis Island and immigration remains at the forefront of global news. “Ellis Island” captures the emotions, elation and uncertainties of America’s epic immigrant experience.

Pacific Symphony’s President and CEO, John Forsyte said, “Great music has often been the medium for sharing important stories. There is, perhaps, no more timely or emotional reminder of our country’s immigrant roots than Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: The Dream of America.” Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Ellis Island Honors Society and its Chairman, Nasser Kazeminy, Pacific Symphony has been able to share this important message with a national audience on PBS’s Great Performances. We are deeply grateful for their support in making this program possible.”

Nasser Kazeminy, chairman of The Ellis Island Honors Society commented, “Since 1986, the Ellis Island Honors Society has recognized outstanding Americans through bestowing the cherished Ellis Island Medals of Honor. The Medal commemorates the indefatigable spirit of those who immigrated to the United States during the Ellis Island era. It is presented annually to those who have shown an outstanding commitment to serving our nation either professionally, culturally or civically, among other criteria.” He continued, “We are honored that the historic place Ellis Island played in our country’s history has been re-told in Peter Boyer’s thrilling orchestral masterpiece, and we are delighted to support both the creation and national broadcast of this moving tribute on the national PBS Network.”

The special was recorded by Great Performances at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in 2017 during Pacific Symphony’s 17th American Composers Festival, before capacity audiences, including nearly 40 recipients of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: The Dream of America” premiered in 2002 to great acclaim. It has since received nearly 200 performances by more than 80 orchestras and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Classical Contemporary Composition in 2005.

A co-production of Pacific Symphony and THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET in association with PBS SoCal, Great Performances, “Ellis Island: The Dream of America with Pacific Symphony” was directed for stage and television by Matthew Diamond and produced by John Walker; with Shawn Murphy as audio producer, production design by Matt Steinbrenner, lighting design by Bob Barnhart and projection design by Perry Freeze. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.