CSO & Michael Preacely to Celebrate Independence Day with Crowd Favorites

The audience in the choir loft waves flags during the Independence Day Pops Celebration by the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra in the Amphitheater, Wednesday, July 4, 2018. BRIAN HAYES/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra will celebrate Independence Day with a special guest performer, musical favorites, and what guest conductor Stuart Chafetz calls a “festive party atmosphere.”

The CSO’s Independence Day Celebration will take place at 8 p.m. tonight, July 4, in the Amphitheater. It features Chafetz, principal pops conductor for the Columbus Symphony and CSO timpanist, as well as a newcomer to Chautauqua: baritone Michael Preacely.

Preacely, a professional opera singer and vocal soloist, first met Chafetz at a Cincinnati Pops Orchestra concert, where the two found that their excellent onstage chemistry led to an unforgettable concert.

“There was such good chemistry between he and I that after the concert, we were like, ‘Hey, when is another opportunity for us to connect?’ ” Preacely said. “(Chafetz) took my information, he contacted my agent, and hey — I’m here.”

The concert will feature a broad range of music: Broadway selections, songs from movie soundtracks and classic patriotic tunes. The setlist includes “The Star-Spangled Banner”; “The Impossible Dream” from The Man of La Mancha; “Cantina Band” from “Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope”; a tribute to American composer John Williams; and Alan Silvestri’s “The Avengers” theme, among others.

Preacely will sing with the CSO for seven of the concert’s 17 selections. Preacely said he and Chafetz designed the program to showcase their musical versatility and to make sure that all audience members find something to enjoy.

“(Chafetz is) very aware of my versatility as an artist, so he really wanted to showcase that as well as what he does; he’s very versatile in his program choices and his style of conducting,” Preacely said. “We have this type of platform where we want to show that. You want to give someone something that they can chew on, regardless of what their tastes may be.”
Conductor Stuart Chafetz turns to the crowd after end of the “1812 Overture” during the Independence Day Pops Celebration by the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra in the Amphitheater, Wednesday, July 4, 2018. BRIAN HAYES/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Beyond that, Preacely wants to create an atmosphere where audience members can celebrate independence, music and their local community.

“We’ve had a really good time going back and forth putting together this program, and I want the audience to go away happy and excited — not only about celebrating Independence Day, but about the art,” Preacely said. “We’re going to talk, we’re going to sing, we’re going to dance, we’re going to have a great time in the name of independence — and in the name of just being together under one roof … with this beautiful music.”

Overall, Preacely said he is excited to visit Chautauqua for the first time — especially in such a festive, energetic concert.

“I’m looking forward to just experiencing the electricity of this atmosphere,” Preacely said. “I can’t wait for that.”

Chafetz is a timpanist with the CSO, and every summer he guest conducts the annual Independence Day concert and the Opera Pops concerts at the Institution. He said he tries to bring crowd-pleasing favorites to the audience for Independence Day.

“We try and focus on music that everybody loves,” Chafetz said. “We do a bit of movies, a little bit of Broadway, a bit of patriotic music and we have some American Top 40, which is so much fun to perform, especially with our festive party atmosphere.”

Chafetz said Preacely’s guest performance will play no small part in that atmosphere.

“Michael, he is an absolutely amazing singer and he’s going to just rock the house,” Chafetz said.

Chafetz hopes Chautauquans will enjoy the performance and celebrate Independence Day with CSO and Preacely.

“As with all of the Fourth of July performances, we want people to have a good time, sing and dance, and do whatever they normally would do on a festive holiday: feel right at home,” Chafetz said. “We want the Amphitheater to feel like their favorite party spot to enjoy, unwind and celebrate America with a great performance.”
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The author Val Lick

Val Lick, this summer’s orchestra reporter, is a born-and-raised Appalachian from eastern Tennessee. She is a rising senior at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she studies literature and journalism, competes in mock trial, writes for the Daily Beacon and frequently considers buzzing her hair. To contact her, look for a tall, tired-looking redhead. Or mispronounce Appalachia. She’ll find you.