Friday, July 05, 2013

A Capitol Fourth, a little more lighthearted this year

I was a little late getting to the Capitol West Lawn last night, having dinner at Ted’s Bulletin on SE 8th St, near the Marine Barracks, Bryce Harper’s favorite restaurant.  The humidity in town was stifling as I walked the three-fourths mile, roundabout, to the security entrance, which was not very crowded fortunately.

Fortunately, PBS recorded it all for me.

The program opened with the National Anthem, sung by Jackie Evancho.

Tim Bergeron was the host, but Barry Manliow  dominated, and opened with  “I Have Music: I write the songs” and  “I can’t smile without you”  and beckoned a singalong.

Steven Spielberg introduced the National Symphony  playing the trumpet meditation from the films core of the film “Lincoln”, by John Williams.  The music rather resembles Copland.  I think that selections from Han Zimmer’s score for “Inception” would have made a great item.

Megan Hilty (“Smash”) sang  “Someone to Watchover Me”;  Neil Diamond sang “Freedom Song” ( even reported this), and then “Sweet Caroline”.

American Idol winner Scotty McCeery sang next, “with “Girl I gotta see you tonight”.  Another American Idol winner, Candace Glover, followed.

The music as whole was lighter than in some previous years.  No Josh Groban this year (“The War at Home”, “Brave”, “You Raise Me Up”).  They almost seem too postromantic.

It seems as though you “usually” have to be a really well established performer to get picked for the Capitol Fourth.  Umbrella insurance companies call you “entertainers”.  I wonder if a classical composer-pianist is an “entertainer” for the mass public in that sense. 

Manilow came back to sing patriotic songs as the fireworks started.

Only then did the National Symphony play the closing passages of Tchaikovsky’s Overture Solenelle, 1812. (They never play the entire overture anymore; they used to.)  It seems to me that the finale of the Polish Symphony would be even more rousing.  Oh, but the Russian national anthem (in the movie "Reds") is the most rousing of all. 

The PBS Link is here
The fireworks show seemed smaller than previous years.  When photographed in the backdrop of the Washington Monument, some of the blasts make blobs on camera that look like fireballs for a mushroom cloud.  If you stand on the south side of the law, the trees tend to “eclipse” the fireworks. 

To conclude, Hilty sang some patriotic songs to the Air Force band.  

I walked back to Remingtons (1/2 mile, up hill, although the humidity was now dropping), to see the NYC display finish on NBC, and then to Eastern Market (the closest station with access to a lot of bars and restaurants after the celebration), to get a seat on the Orange Line.  Unfortunately, Metro anticipated that ruse, and many of the trains headed toward Smithsonian were “no passengers”.  

The ceremony of the year 2000, when I was to leave at 5 AM to go back home to Minneapolis the next day, still rings in my mind.  Those were different times.  

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