On a balmy, rain-free evening, the Cleveland Orchestra
dazzled 80,000 spectators on Public Square Thursday night for its 18th annual Star-Spangled Spectacular concert to celebrate Independence Day. It was equally stunning to see that conductor Franz Welser-Most has more class in the tip of his baton than some of the Neanderthals who sat through the 75-minute performance.
First, there was the twentysomething who thought she could channel Beverly Sills as she belted out “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the opened National Anthem. When she attempted to sing, “…o’er the land of the freeeeeee,” she sounded more like Rosanne at a 1990 San Diego Padres game
Not to be outdone, a family of 10 clapped to the beat of Tchaikovsky’s “Marche Slave.” The venerable Russian composer based the piece on two Slavic folk songs in tribute to hundreds of Christian Slavs, who were slaughtered by a Turkish army in 1876. The family somehow believed it was a Hee Haw number at an Appalachian hoedown.
The best line came at the end of the program after host Dee Perry of WCPN
announced that organizers were calling off the planned fireworks display. They were concerned about safety due to gusty winds that started to blow in off the lake 10 minutes earlier. While a few booed the news, the rest applauded the orchestra for a flawless concert. But a 14-year-old girl – who apparently works as a truck driver during summer breaks – succinctly put it this way: “If the goddamned orchestra had shut up 10 minutes ago, we coulda had some fuckin’ fireworks.”
Happy birthday, U.S.A. -- Cris Glaser