News Column

Patriotic concert in Pottsville thrills audience of 200

July 7, 2014

By Gabriella O'Grady, Republican & Herald, Pottsville, Pa.

July 07--The Anthracite Philharmonic closed the Fourth of July weekend Sunday with a performance titled "Star Spangled Banner Patriotic Concert" at the Yuengling Mansion, Pottsville.

"We tried to tie it in with the Fourth of July celebration," Mark P. Thomas, orchestra director, said.

Thomas said this year's performance is "especially fun because it is kind of relaxed."

About 200 people attended the event. Soft drinks, beer, wine and Yuengling's ice cream were sold along with fifty-fifty tickets for half of the money made at the performance.

The concert began with the orchestra playing an armed forces salute to veterans. Thomas asked veterans to stand up as the crowd applauded them for their dedication to the nation.

Thomas said the "1812 Overture" the philharmonic would perform was a "big classical piece," but he was looking forward to the two songs the Minor Notes Chorale would sing.

"This adds a totally different dimension to the performance," he said.

The chorale performing along with the orchestra was a new addition to the annual show.

The eight girls of the Minor Notes who were able to attend sang "America the Beautiful" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

The chorale is made up of children ages 6 to 15, girls and boys, and was just launched in January. Its members sing tunes "anywhere from pop music to classical," Eileen Thomas, administrative assistant for the group, said, adding, "Their favorite song is 'Lolipop,' the '50s song."

Other patriotic songs done by the philharmonic included "Victory at Sea" and "Stars and Stripes Forever."

The orchestra also played two jazz compilations, tributes to jazz artists Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. Thomas said Armstrong died on July 6, 1971, at age 69. He said he chose to include jazz to the performance because "jazz is significant with American music. It influenced everything."

This is the fourth year the orchestra has played a patriotic concert at the Yuengling site, which is home to the Schuylkill County Council for the Arts.

"It just became a tradition," Linda Krine, manager of the orchestra, said.

Krine said more than 200 people attended the first year the orchestra performed at the mansion.

"The last two years were rainy so we didn't get as many people," Krine said.

Thomas told the audience that the weather seemed to be nice, but a storm was brewing in Altoona.

"We might have to play really fast in the second half," he said, laughing.

The orchestra was started in 2011 and is made up mostly of local musicians, some as young as high school students, Krine said.

The most difficult part of the performance, Thomas said, was planning it.

"Just coordinating it all together takes a lot of people but somehow it all works out," he said. "When I hear the orchestra, it all is definitely worth it."

Among those in attendance were Maryanne Conway, Pottsville, and Barabara Ondo, Baltimore, Maryland, who were happy to celebrate their holiday weekend at the concert.

"It's something festive to do to celebrate the holiday," Ondo said.

The two women were already fans of the orchestra.

Conway said she likes to support the orchestra because it does a "fabulous" job performing. She said she especially enjoyed a Beatles tribute show the orchestra once performed.

Ondo said that she was excited to hear jazz music thrown into the performance.


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Source: Republican & Herald (Pottsville, PA)

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