San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra performs Independence Day celebration

The San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra kicking off the Fourth of July weekend with a celebration of live music, with iconic independence day sounds.

By Adriana Lopez

July 2 marked the first day of the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra summer session, giving guests an opportunity to watch a live performance and a firework show at the San Bernardino Valley College football field. While attendees were encouraged to bring their own food and beverage, there were also food trucks directly outside of the football field entrance. The event was not only intended to be a patriotic celebration, but an event to bring the community together. Anne Viricel, the executive director of the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra, explained that holding the concert at San Bernardino Valley College was an integral part of the event.

“We wanted to do this at Valley because it’s perfectly positioned to connect with the community and everybody to come out and enjoy the evening,” Viricel said.

The concert was also a celebration of American music, with a blend of performances dedicated to the genres of jazz, rock and roll, blues and soul. With conductors Anthony Parnther and Lesley Leighton leading the band and vocals from Ashley Faatoalia and Laura Dickinson, attendees were treated to a 19 track setlist, including renditions of “Armed Forces Salute”, “You Go to My Head”, “This is Me”, “I’d Rather Go Blind” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love”.

Maestro Parnther began planning the event three years ago when he was hired to be the music director and conductor of the symphony.

“This event was all about finding more creative ways to bring the Inland Empire community together in a celebratory fashion, in a way that family and friends can get together and enjoy amazing music by their local professional orchestra,” Parnther said.

As the concert progressed, the football stadium filled with people of different ethnic backgrounds, ages and families.

Among the crowd was Sharnika Freeman, who brought her three children with her. Freeman’s 12 year old daughter, Kyra Jackson, plays the string bass and thought the event was an opportune time to introduce her other children to a new experience.
“She’s in orchestra at her school so I thought it would be cool to see the orchestra, but also to let them see something different other than amusement parks,” Freeman said.

For Jackson, seeing the performance served as inspiration to grow as a musician.
“I see things that I might do when I’m older, like play more advanced songs,” Jackson said.
This was also a hope for Parnther, to inspire attendees who might otherwise not see a professional orchestra symphony.

“It’s really important for community members to see themselves in our orchestra, our orchestra is such a diverse collection of musicians, and one day they might be up here making music with us,” Parnther said. “And it’s important for them to see what’s possible and that’s what I think makes something like this so important.”