It’s become an all-American tradition in Sonoma County.
You pack a picnic, drape yourself in red, white and blue and head off to Sonoma State University for an all-inclusive afternoon of games and patriotic music, capped off by a Fireworks Spectacular at the Green Music Center’s Weill Hall and Lawn.
This year, the symphony’s Principal Pops Conductor Michael Berkowitz will be back on the podium, along with Broadway powerhouse Megan Hilty, known for her role as Glinda in the hit musical “Wicked” and for the musical TV drama “Smash,” about the fictional creation of a new Broadway show based on the life of Marilyn Monroe.
“She’s had an amazing ascent in about 10 years, from when she started,” said Berkowitz, who crafted the musical program in collaboration with the singer. “She got out of college and came to New York and did ‘Wicked,” and just last week she did the giant show ‘Bombshell’ (a benefit event), which grew out of ‘Smash.’”
Hilty, who graduated from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in 2004, will perform beloved standards from the American songbook along with Broadway hits from “Guys and Dolls” and “Brigadoon,” plus a few songs from “Wicked” and one from “Smash.”
She will be using Berkowitz’s arrangements of “Get Happy” and “Someone to Watch Over Me,” based on the original Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland chord charts.
Berkowitz is looking forward to the rock ’n’ roll medley during the second half, which includes classic hits such as “Wipe Out,” “Johnny Be Good” and “Tequila,” all arranged by composer Henry Mancini.
“That’s fun because the audience knows all the words and will scream ‘Tequila’ at the same time,” he said.
Both halves of the concert will open and close with some of the beloved classics of the patriotic genre, from “The Star-Spangled Banner” to Morton Gould’s “American Salute.”
“Obviously, on the Fourth of July, you want to do an All-American show,” Berkowitz said. “The ‘Armed Forces Medley’ gets emotional, because you see the veterans stand up and be acknowledged.”
Berkowitz will present an interesting arrangement of George Gershwin’s “Strike Up the Band,” written for renowned jazz drummer and band leader Buddy Rich to perform with several orchestras. And he’s going to be giving more than the downbeat.
“I was able to get the score, and it hasn’t been played since 1975,” he said. “And I’m going to play the drums.”
For the ultimate crowd-pleaser, Berkowitz decided to present only the finale of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” which cuts the 15-minute piece down to the final five minutes.
“It’s the PBS version,” he said. “People just want to hear the explosions.”
For the grand finale, Hilty will sing Irvin Berlin’s “God Bless America,” and the orchestra will toss off the jaunty “Stars & Stripes Forever March” by John Philip Sousa.
Staff writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 521-5287 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @dianepete56.
MORE FOR THE FOURTH
Towns all around the North Bay will be celebrating Independence Day next weekend with an array of parades, barbecues, hikes and fireworks shows. Here are some of the more prominent happenings:
Windsor Kaboom! opens its gates at 4 p.m. at Keiser Park for an afternoon of live music, games, beer and wine, followed by a fireworks show at dusk. Bring lawn chairs, blankets and ice cools, but leave behind alcohol, barbecue grills and pets. $5 general, $50 for VIP tickets including barbecue meal, two beers, snacks and private restrooms. 700 Windsor River Road. windsorkaboom.com.
Sebastopol’s festivities start at 5:30 p.m. July 3 at Analy High School, featuring live music by Frobeck and Sol Horizon, games, food , and a fireworks show at dusk. Tickets are $10 general, kids 6 to 11 $5, free for ages 5 and under. 6950 Analy Ave. sebastopolkiwanis.org.
Bodega Bay’s fireworks will start at dusk on July 3 and can be viewed from all around Bodega Bay, including Westside Road, the north side of Doran Beach Road, Bay Flat Road, Smith Brothers Road and Highway 1 between Smith Brothers Road and Taylor Street. visitbodegabay.com.
Monte Rio Beach will hold its annual water parade at dusk on July 3, followed by a sound and light show on a curtain of water and fireworks. From Noon to 4 p.m. July 3, there will be Big Rocky Games for kids of all ages from noon to 4 p.m. 20488 Highway 116. monterio.org.
Santa Rosa will open the gates to its annual Red, White and BOOM! show at 3:30 p.m. July 4 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Live music starts at 4 p.m., and there will be food vendors and games for kids. The evening ends with a fireworks show at dusk simulcast to live music at KZST 100.1 FM. Tickets are $10 general, $5 veterans and kids 5 to 11, free for kids under 5. Parking costs $5, and VIP pass is $50. 1350 Bennett Valley Road. srboom.com.
Sonoma holds its annual parade at 10 a.m. July 4 around the Sonoma Plaza, followed by an old-fashioned carnival with food, drink and games. At 7 p.m. July 4, the General’s Daughter will serve its annual 4th of July barbecue, featuring food from the grill and a front-row seat at Sonoma’s fireworks show. $65 adults, $25 kids 11 to 18, free for kids 10 and under. 400 West Spain St. ramekins.com.
Kenwood will hold its annual Hometown Parade at 10:30 a.m. at the Kenwood Plaza Park on Warm Springs Road, followed by an afternoon of music, food and fun. There’s also a footrace at 7:30 a.m. July 4 and a pancake breakfast from 7 to 11:30 a.m. at the Kenwood Community Church Garden. kenwoodparade.com.
Petaluma will hold its Fourth of July celebration at 5 p.m. July 4 at the Sonoma Marin Fairgrounds, including a fireworks show at dusk. 175 Fairgrounds Dr. Costs is $5. At 10:30 a.m. July 4, the annual July 4th Bell-Ringing Ceremony will take place at the Petaluma Historical Library and Museum, 20 Fourth St. visitpetaluma.com.
Penngrove will hold a pancake breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. July 4 at the Rancho Adobe Fire Station, 11000 Main St. Tickets: $8 adults, $6 kids. The 39th annual parade will roll down Main Street at 11 a.m. Sunday, July 5, followed by a barbecue, games and music in Penngrove Park until 4 p.m. 794-1516.
The Green Music Center at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park will hold its annual July 4th Spectacular starting at 4:30 p.m. at the Weill Hall and Lawn. There will be a play zone, picnics and various dinner options. The Santa Rosa Symphony concert starring Megan Hilty starts at 7:30 p.m., followed by the fireworks show at dusk. Tickets start at $20 outdoors and $35 indoors. Kids 12 and under are half price on the lawn, and kids under 2 are free. gmc.sonoma.edu.
Guerneville’s fireworks start at dusk on July 4 and can be seen from all over the downtown, including Main Street, First Street, the Guerneville Plaza and the historic bridge. russianriver.com.
Healdsburg opens the gates to its annual fireworks display at 3 p.m. at the Healdsburg High School football field. Food will be sold from 6 p.m. to dusk, when the fireworks start. Bring a blanket and a picnic. healdsburg.com.
Cloverdale will hold its annual fireworks show at dusk on July 4 at the Cloverdale High School Football field. 97 School St. cloverdalechamber.com.
Sugarloaf Park will hold its second annual Fireworks Hike and Fundraiser at 7 p.m. July 4, with a view of up to 18 fireworks show throughout the Bay Area. Tickets are $50, with lights snacks and sweets included. Kids to age 17 are $10. Not recommended for kids under 13. 2605 Adobe Canyon Road, Kenwood. Reservations required at sugarloaf4th2015.bpt.me.