July 4 at the Sarasota Opera House
With the Lakewood Ranch Wind Ensemble
For 18 years, the professional choral group has celebrated Independence Day
with rousing patriotic anthems and stirring inspirational choral works celebrating America. This season marks the final July 4th concert as the organization starts a new tradition of presenting Memorial Day concerts in 2024.
(May 18, 2023) For the past 18 years, Choral Artists of Sarasota has celebrated America’s freedom and independence with a July 4th concert of rousing, patriotic songs. According to Joseph Holt, the artistic director and conductor of Choral Artists of Sarasota, this may be area audiences’ final opportunity to experience the group’s beloved Independence Day concert.
Why close the curtain on this crowd-pleasing annual concert?
According to Holt, it’s definitely not a question of public appeal. He notes that these Independence Day concerts became so popular, Choral Artists had to move them to the Sarasota Opera House in 2019.
“Our July 4th concerts have had an amazing 18-year legacy,” he says. “It’s been a great run— and we’ve enjoyed every moment.” Despite this popularity, Holt feels it’s time for the choral ensemble to sing the anthems of America’s fallen heroes. The catalyst for this change?
Holt explains that Choral Artists was invited to be the principal choral ensemble for D-Day’s 80th anniversary commemorations in France, in June 2024. The invitation came from Historic Programs, in partnership with the Department of Defense, Office of Commemorations.
Holt devoted 20 years of his life with the US Army Chorus in the U.S. Army. He was deeply moved by this honor.
“There is nothing more poignant or meaningful than participating in an official military ceremony commemorating the American heroes of our past,” he says. “We owe our freedoms to these heroes. They deserve to be remembered.”
Holt adds that Choral Artists’ role in the D-Day commemoration in France inspired it to start a new tradition in Sarasota: annual Memorial Day concerts.
“Independence Day and Memorial Day celebrate two very different facets of the American experience,” Holt says. “This will be a timely change for Choral Artists. It’s a great beginning — and a poignant end. As this will be our final July 4th concert, that’s all the more reason to experience it.”
Choral Artists’ 2023 Independence Day Concert will be packed with traditional patriotic songs. As always, it will include a salute to America’s armed forces.
According to Holt, the concert will include excerpts from “Washington Women,” a new collection of choral songs by David Chase and Judith Clurman for mixed chorus, piano and cello. This tribute incorporates several decades of inspiring quotes from high-powered women in Washington, D.C. For this July 4th concert, Holt chose the wise words of Condoleezza Rice, Elena Kagan, Laura Bush, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Michelle Obama.
“Choral Artists celebrates America’s forefathers every Independence Day,” Holt notes. “For our ultimate July 4th concert, we decided to celebrate our nation’s ‘foremothers’ as well.”
The 2023 program will also showcase popular songs of World War II, including “White Cliffs of Dover,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and “We’ll Meet Again.”
During the second half, the Lakewood Ranch Wind Ensemble will thrill audiences with toe-tapping hits from the Big Band era. The concert concludes with such uplifting anthems as “Colossus of Columbia” and “From Sea to Shining Sea.”
“As this will be our final Independence Day concert, we decided to go out with a bang,” Holt says. “We thought it’d be fitting to end the program with fireworks — sonic fireworks, that is. Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture’ was our one and only choice for musical pyrotechnics! It’s traditionally performed with cannons. As none were available, we’ll be handing out paper bags to everyone. At the crescendo, you pop your bag!”
According to Holt, that audience participation perfectly captures the July 4th spirit.
“You’re not simply listening to the triumphant music of freedom—you’re helping to make it. I think Tchaikovsky would approve!”
Choral Artists of Sarasota presents “American Fanfare,” July 4, 4:30 p.m., at the Sarasota Opera House, 61 N Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota. Tickets are $5-$50. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.ChoralArtistsSarasota.org or call 941-387-4900.
About the Choral Artists of Sarasota
The Choral Artists of Sarasota, entering its 44th 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.