PORTLAND – We’re not talking about the Boston Pops at the Esplanade along the Charles River, but the Portland Symphony at the Eastern Prom overlooking Casco Bay isn’t a bad alternative.

The Portland Symphony Orchestra will precede the July 4 fireworks over Casco Bay with 90 minutes of patriotic music, then complement the fireworks with an additional 40 minutes of spirited, percussive accompaniment.

The musical portion of the “Stars and Stripes Spectacular” begins at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. The orchestra, consisting of 60 to 70 musicians, will perform on a stage at the first parking area on the right as patrons head from the Promenade to the parking lot, boat ramp, beach and water below.

Folks seated and standing on the hill and the Prom will have the stage in their sights, with the fireworks going off above and beyond. The fireworks will begin about 9:15 p.m., and a crowd of about 50,000 is expected to attend the free event.

There is so much good to tell in this story.

The city’s annual fireworks display was given up for dead earlier this year, a victim of budget cuts at City Hall. Just last year, the PSO cut its popular Independence Pops concerts at Cape Elizabeth and other communities across the region, also because of bad economics.

PSO music director Robert Moody said the orchestra wanted to bring back Independence Pops, but could do so only without taking a financial hit.

Concerned that the lack of a first-rate fireworks show would reflect badly on the community, a group of local businesspeople agreed to put up the money to cover the cost of the fireworks and the Patriotic Pops musical program to accompany it.

The group included Jon Jennings, president and general manager of Portland’s NBA Development League basketball team, the Red Claws; Jack Quirk, owner of Quirk Chevrolet; Michael Dubyak, chairman and CEO of Wright Express; and Richard Connor, CEO of MaineToday Media, which publishes The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Central Maine Morning Sentinel in Waterville, the weekly Coastal Journal in Bath, and their affiliated websites.

Patriotic Pops is also sponsored in part by Unum, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Northern New England, PowerPay, Seacoast RV, the Maine Public Broadcasting Network and the Boston Musicians Association.

Moody has put together a musical program featuring soprano Suzanne Nance, host of MPBN’s “Morning Classical” program.

Highlights include selections from Broadway shows, including “Porgy and Bess,” “West Side Story” and “My Fair Lady.” There will be Sousa marches, military music and other selections that highlight American independence, strength and moral resolve. The concert will be broadcast live on MPBN radio stations.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]


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