The Detroit Symphony Orchestra gave its Dearborn audience more bang for the buck Tuesday night when it performed a patriotic set during The Salute to America Concert at that was accompanied by actual cannon fire.
Tuesday's show was one of four in the annual series put on by the DSO and The Henry Ford. During the performance, cannon blasts punctuated the most pronounced parts of the Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture with a fireworks show in the background.
Heather Hart, the assistant orchestra personnel manager of the DSO, directed the cannon blasts this year, ensuring that cannons were ready to go and fired on time.
According to Hart, cannons are placed in two locations to give the sense of two opposing forces in a battle. She said the real cannon sounds gives the music an added dimension for the audience to enjoy.
“It just gives it a 'cool factor' for the audience,” Hart said. “It really gets them into it.”
Hart spoke with earplugs draped around her, calling them her “necklace.” On the score in front her her, she had placed a small tab indicating the optimal times to set the cannons off.
The Dearborn native is a professional musician who plays French horn, adding that she grew up enamored with the DSO.
“It's awesome because I grew up in Dearborn,” Hart said. “I grew up going, (in) middle school and high school, to hear the DSO”
The cannons were operated by the Loomis Battery, a local historical society that repairs and builds the weapons.
Eric Carney, a five-year member of the battery and one of the several members who manned the cannons, said that the cannons were all authentic pieces of weaponry–some dating back to the 19th century.
In addition to the booming finale, the concert featured patriotic tunes including “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “American Salute,” among other well-known well pieces.
Grammy Award-winning Director Leonard Slatkin led the symphony. Tuesday's show was the third night of the concert and Slatkin will be again directing the last concert on Wednesday night. U.S. Sen. Carl Levin will also be part of the show on Wednesday when he reads the narrative portion of “Lincoln Portrait” — a musical piece interspersed with readings from some of Abraham Lincoln's most famous works.
On Tuesday, Anthony Lucas, an actor with The Henry Ford, narrated the Lincoln Portrait. He said he was glad just to be a part of the DSO and “the beautiful music they play,” but added that the “Lincoln Portrait” offered a chance for attendees and even himself to reflect on freedom in America.
“I think we should always remember what Abraham Lincoln did with the emancipation proclamation and what other leaders have done (like) Dr. Martin Luther King,” Lucas said. “How they fought and died, literally, so that we all could be free.”
Gabrielle Poshadlo, the DSO public relations manager, said the concert–now in its 20th year–was originally held in a smaller field in Greenfield Village, but quickly outgrew that space. While Tuesday night was marked by heavy rain early on, fans of explosions and classical music still came out in droves.
“I think that the people in the region know that they have this really great cultural gem and the opportunity to see it in this one-of-a-kind setting is hard to pass up every year,” Poshadlo said.
The final Fourth of July performance of Salute to America still has tickets available. Visit www.thehenryford.com to get yours.