For 15 years, the choral group has celebrated Independence Day with rousing songs celebrating America. This year, the virtual performance will highlight music that offers hope, comfort and inspires patriotic pride during this difficult time.
(Sarasota, FL) For the last 15 years, Choral Artists of Sarasota has honored Independence Day with a concert of rousing songs celebrating the United States. The choral group will continue that tradition this July 4—with a twist. To ensure the safety of its singers and audience, the concert will be virtual. According to Artistic Director Joseph Holt, this year’s concert will feature highlights of previous Independence Day celebrations—and will be streamed over various platforms, including Facebook and YouTube. “Audiences should prepare to tune in and sing along on July 4 at 4 p.m.,” says Holt. “We’ll be safe, and we’ll be celebrating.” The concert will stream on Choral Artists’ Facebook page (facebook.com/choralartistsofsarasota/) and Youtube (accessed from www.choralartistssarasota.org/watch-listen). The concert will also be available on Choral Artists’ website after the original broadcast schedule.
Holt explains that Choral Artists’ July 4th concert “has been a vital part of our community’s celebration of Independence Day for the past 15 years. These concerts featured musical pieces that form the heart and soul of our collective national sense of pride and patriotism. For all these years, Choral Artists has celebrated, through music, the thread of ‘liberty and justice for all’ that characterizes our nation.” He adds that, last year, Choral Artists moved the concert to the Sarasota Opera House due to popular demand. It also partnered with the Sarasota Concert Band last year to present a “musical tradition that is as American as hot dogs, apple pie and fireworks.”
Original plans for the live performance of “American Fanfare” were to include patriotic music composed by female composers. The narration, provided by an actor from Florida Studio Theater, was to highlight the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and women’s constitutional right to vote. This was to be part of FST’s “The Suffragist Project.” This year’s virtual performance will feature one of those works, “The March of the Women” composed by suffragette Ethel Smyth, recorded specifically for this concert. Rousing marches by Sousa, performed by the Sarasota Concert Band, and traditional American anthems celebrating independence and freedom had also been planned for the program.
Holt says the July 4th video will instead feature hits from the past years, including such patriotic standards as the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “God Bless America,” and “America the Beautiful.” Other works will include composer (and Sarasota resident) Jerry Bilik’s “Independence,” which describes the events leading to the creation of the United States, with Sarasota-based poet and performer Cedric Hameed narrating; “March of the Women” by Ethel Smyth; “Ride the Chariot,” arranged by William H. Smith; “If I Can Help Someone” by Alma Bazel Androzzo; “We Won’t Give Up” by Jay Rouse; and “Somewhere” by Leonard Bernstein.
“In this difficult time, I have chosen a program that reflects our love of country and recognizes the yearning for freedom and equality that has been a part of our history,” says Holt. “Hope, inspiration and solidarity in the face of these struggles have often found expression in song. As we find ourselves at another crossroads in our national quest to comprehensively achieve liberty and justice for all, our program highlights music that offers hope, comfort and inspires patriotic pride during this difficult time.”
According to Holt, with the cancellation of the group’s “Listen to the Earth” in April and the July 4th concert, Choral Artists has lost more than $50,000 in ticket sales. “This represents a significant loss of income for our singers,” he says. “As we are all freelance musicians in this organization with incomes derived from a variety of performing opportunities, the pandemic has been financially devastating.”
For more information, visit www.ChoralArtistsSarasota.org.
About the Choral Artists of Sarasota
The Choral Artists of Sarasota, entering its 41st season, features 32 of the region’s most notable professional singers and eight apprentice singers. The group celebrates the rich, artistic expressiveness of choral music through innovative repertoire, inspired performances and stimulating educational outreach. Under the artistic direction of Dr. Joseph Holt, Choral Artists of Sarasota performs a repertoire spanning four centuries, and includes symphonic choral works, intimate madrigals, folk songs, close-harmony jazz, and Broadway show music. The ensemble also specializes in premiere performances of lesser-known choral works—particularly music by living American composers. Choral Artists of Sarasota has performed premieres by René Clausen, Dick Hyman, Robert Levin, Gwyneth Walker and James Grant. As part of the organization’s educational outreach, eight young singers from area schools, colleges and universities, ages 16 to 22, are invited to join the group each year. For more information, visit www.ChoralArtistsSarasota.org.