Choral Artists of Sarasota Presents “Sounds of Independence”

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Choral Artists of Sarasota Presents

“Sounds of Independence”

With the Sarasota Concert Band

And Poet Cedric Hameed

July 4 at 4 p.m.   Sarasota Opera House

The Choral Artists of Sarasota salutes Independence Day with choral fireworks celebrating America, including perennial favorites, the area premiere of Sarasota resident’s Jerry Bilik’s, “Independence,” and “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” by René Clausen with the Sarasota Concert Band, and much more.

(Sarasota, FL) The Choral Artists of Sarasota celebrates Independence Day with “Sounds of Independence,” featuring rousing songs celebrating America, July 4, 4 p.m., at Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota. Under the direction of Dr. Joseph Holt, the concert features traditional patriotic songs, the area premiere of Sarasota resident’s Jerry Bilik’s, “Independence,” with the Sarasota Concert Band, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” by René Clausen, rousing Sousa marches, a special salute to our armed forces and more. Tickets are $20 to $45. Student tickets are $5. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call 941-387-4900.

“We’ve moved the concert to the Sarasota Opera House due to popular demand,” says Holt, who adds that another first this year is a partnership with the Sarasota Concert Band.  “A significant addition to our performance is the inclusion of the Sarasota Concert and—a musical tradition for Independence Day concerts that is as American as hot dogs, apple pie and fireworks.”  Holt says the Concert Band, with William Barbanera conducting, will join Choral Artists for the second half of the program, featuring favorite selections such as John Philip Sousa’s “Thunderer March,” Morton Gould’s “American Salute,” and Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” which has become a traditional favorite at July 4 programs across the country.  “It’s curious that the piece is all about the defeat of the French by the Russians but the ending, with its fireworks, bells, and cannons, has become associated with our celebration of July 4,” says Holt. “As a special treat, cannon fire will be provided by the audience!”

Holt says that composer (and Sarasota resident) Jerry Bilik’s “Independence” describes the events leading to the creation of the United States, quoting exclusively from the actual written records of the British Parliament, “while the chorus portrays the increasing fervor of the colonists leading to the events at Lexington, using only the text of our own Declaration of Independence.”  The Sarasota-based poet and performer Cedric Hameed will narrate.

Other highlights will include a performance of the first movement of René Clausen’s arrangement of Wadsworth’s poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” Holt says that the Choral Artists (then known as Gloria Musicae) performed the European premiere of the work in its entirety at the Amalfi Coast Music and Art Festival in 2012.  “For this concert, we’re performing the first movement of this work which is the opening of the famous poem, ‘Listen my children and you shall hear…’”

The concert also features “I Once Had a Dream,” which features quotes from the Declaration of Independence. “This rich and expressive work calls to mind an echo of Dr. King’s famous speech, ‘I once had a dream; I still have a dream,’” says Holt.

Another powerful selection, “America, the Dream,” written as a celebration of singing for racial and social justice, sets the 11th stanza of the Langston Hughes poem “Freedom’s Plow.” Holt notes the piece will open with a quote from “America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee),” to inspire the audience to remember “one of America’s most important ideals – freedom.”

Other concert highlights include “O, America!” which was written for the Irish singing group Celtic Woman. “The song is a thank you to their American audience, capturing the essence of the American spirit and the legacy of freedom in the world,” says Holt. A selection from Ken Burns’ “The War,” a tribute to those who served in World War II, will also be featured. According to Holt, the concert will open with the national anthem and the first half will conclude with “a piece that is a likely candidate for a better national anthem in the long run, ‘God Bless America.’”

Traditional songs include the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “America the Beautiful,” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

“This July 4th concert is the perfect prelude to an evening of downtown dining and enjoying the fireworks over Sarasota Bay,” says Holt. “There’s no better way to celebrate our great American heritage and national pride!”