Fort Wayne Philharmonic is celebrating America as the orchestra launches its “Patriotic Pops” series with a performance tonight.
The 7:30 p.m. show at DeKalb Outdoor Theatre in Auburn is the Philharmonic's first concert in more than 15 months, during which performances were suspended because of the pandemic and negotiations on the musicians' collective bargaining agreement stretched out. A deal on the latter was reached in May, allowing for a summer season and a regular 2021-22 season.
Music director Andrew Constantine is looking forward to the Philharmonic performing together again.
“It's far too long since the orchestra's been in front of the public,” he says. “I'm really excited for us all to be getting back to what we do best.”
In addition to tonight's concert, Constantine will conduct at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Parkview Field and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Central Park in Warsaw. Youth Orchestras director Troy Webdell will conduct at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Ouabache State Park in Bluffton, 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Pokagon State Park in Angola and 8:30 p.m. July 4 at Bixler Lake Park in Kendallville.
There is free admission to all the “Patriotic Pops” performances, though registration is required for Parkview Field seats and there are entrance fees for the state parks.
U.K. native Constantine jokes that he has to get out ahead of everyone with the irony of a Brit conducting concerts to celebrate the U.S. Independence Day, but he enjoys “Patriotic Pops” concerts, which he has conducted with several American orchestras. What he enjoys most is the armed forces medley when current and former members of the military are invited to stand during their branch's anthem.
Other pieces on the program include “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “1812 Overture” and the main title from “Star Wars.”
The “Patriotic Pops” concerts are well attended and may be the only time of the year that some members of the public experience the Philharmonic. Constantine says the popularity of the performances shows that the Philharmonic has a wider relevance and reminds the community that it has a great orchestra.
“However they demonstrate their support for the orchestra, it's good to know that there are people there who really value what we do and bring to the community,” he says.
After wrapping the pops series, the Philharmonic has several more summer performances on its calendar, including a “Music from the Movies” concert led by associate conductor Caleb Young on July 17 and a classics concert Constantine will conduct Aug. 15. Both are free at Foellinger Theatre, a venue Constantine calls one of the city's underrated gems.
For a full schedule of the summer season, go to FWPhil.org.
The Philharmonic will announce its 2021-22 season soon, and Constantine says he looks forward to showcasing the orchestra's soloists.
“We've got some tremendous players, and they're going to be upfront, proud, loud and plentiful,” he says.