Altoona Symphony Orchestra ends summer on patriotic note

The Altoona Symphony Orchestra is ending the summer with a bang. It is playing two special events that promise star-spangled, patriotic music celebrating the 70th anniversary of the official end of World War II on Sept. 2.

“We wanted to do our part and give our tribute to our military, thanking them for their service for this country,” said symphony Maestra Teresa Cheung.

ASO will perform a free concert on Aug. 29 at the Canal Basin Park in Hollidaysburg, and it will be the featured entertainment just before the final home game of the Altoona Curve baseball game on Aug. 30 that celebrates the team’s third annual “Day in the Arts.”

The Canal Basin performance is free and is the finale of this year’s “Music in the Burg” series sponsored by the Hollidaysburg Area Arts Council, spokeswoman Jill Bulman said in an email. It begins at 6 p.m.

The program will open with the “Star Spangled Banner,” said Cheung. Other selections will include Gould’s “Yankee Doodle” with the Allegheny Ukulele Kollective and “76 Trombones.”

Bulman encourages attendees to take a chair or blanket “and enjoy your symphony.” In case of bad weather, the concert will be at the Hollidaysburg Area Junior High School, she said. For more information, visit Hollidaysburg ArtsCouncil.org or its Facebook page.

The Curve performance will feature the national anthem and “Yankee Doodle,” as well, but most of the program is different from the Canal Basin concert. “God Bless America” and Sousa’s “Semper Fidelis” and “The Liberty Bell” marches are among the selections that are sure to get the patriotic juices flowing among those in attendance at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

The orchestra will be playing on the Curve concourse for the second year. The first year, it played on the field. Last year, while practicing on the concourse, Curve owner and “big music fan” Bob Lozinak “really liked the sound” and suggested the symphony play there, Cheung said.

“The audience could sit on the steps and the sound was great because of the natural amplification,” she said.

It’s a rare opportunity for a kid at the ballpark – or anywhere – to hear a full symphony, noted Jessica White, ASO’s office manager.

The gates open at 3:30 p.m. with other arts organizations on hand with activities and performances including mural painting, face painting, arts and crafts stations, dance and karaoke fun and demonstrations by professional artists.

The orchestra is scheduled to begin playing at 4:30 p.m. followed by the first pitch of the game at 6 p.m.

While the orchestra is the lead organization and primary beneficiary of the event, other groups to in attendance will include the Allegheny Ballet Company, the Altoona Community Theatre, the Blair Concert Chorale, the Blair County Arts Foundation, the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, the Altoona Horseshoe Chorus, the Hollidaysburg Area Arts Council, the Allegheny Chorale of Tyrone and the Sweet Adelines.

“We’re going to have a lot of people there with lots of fun stuff to do, plus people can learn about all the different arts organizations that they may not know much about,” said White. “It’s the last (home) game of the season with fireworks afterwards.”

Symphony officials are hopeful to have Steamer, the Curve mascot who nearly was retired this year, serve as guest conductor.

“Not quite sure if Steamer is going to make a guest appearance on the podium,” Cheung said. “He really likes attention, and I guess we will have to applaud very big to bring him up!”

Curve General Manager Rob Egan did not return a phone call for confirmation.

Tickets to the Day in the Arts are $11 for an adult or child and include seating in the grand stand for the Curve game versus the Trenton (N.J.) Thunder, the Yankees Double-A affiliate. Buying advanced tickets online allows patrons to direct their support to the arts organization of their choice. They are available at AltoonaSymphony.org/day-in-the-arts-2015. Tickets may be purchased at the gate, but they will not benefit the arts groups.

More information is available at the website or by calling the ASO at 943-2500.

Mirror Staff Writer Cherie Hicks is at 949-7030.