COLUMBIA, SC — The first stirring notes of “The Star-Spangled Banner” had barely sounded over the great meadow at Saluda Shoals Park on Friday night when the crowd rose almost in unison from lawn chairs and blankets to join in an impromptu singing of the national anthem.
For the next hour, as the cicadas hummed and dusk rolled in, the Lake Murray Symphony Orchestra entertained with stirring marches and lively patriotic tunes designed to get toes tapping and miniature flags waving. Artistic director Einar Anderson said he believed it was the 5th appearance at Saluda Shoals for the volunteer orchestra.
The event, billed as a Star Spangled Symphonic Salute, drew listeners from babies in arms to children and adults of all ages. For Debra Williams, it was the perfect patriotic ending to Independence Day.
“I love the holiday; I love the songs,” Williams said. “I just love the whole focus of where we came from and the price that was paid.”
Williams, a social worker at the Dorn VA Medical Center, moved from Southern California two years ago and has spent a lot of her time learning to know the state. “Everybody is so proud to be from South Carolina and I love that.”
With her children grown and living away from her, Williams said she tries to find an Independence Day event that resonates with her interest in history. Last year, she attended a Revolutionary War battle re-enactment. “I love music, so this is perfect,” she said.
John Russ wandered on a park path with his 3-year-old son James before the concert, unsure whether the youngster would make it through the concert without falling asleep. Russ, who grew up in the Midlands but now lives in Madison, Wisc., had come with his wife and children, including 7-year-old Madeline, and his parents.
Some of the family had begun the day at the Lexington County Peach Festival in Gilbert, where he said young Madeline had feasted on one of her favorite fruits.
For him, he said, July 4th “has been a family day.”
Lois and George Wolf grabbed some dinner from a catering truck before the concert. George Wolf has played as a violinist in the orchestra but this time he planned to settle into a chair and listen to his friends play. Director Anderson and assistant conductor Suzanna Pavlovsky presided over such favorites as the “Washington Post March,” “Armed Forces – The Pride of America,” “America the Beautiful” and “Born on the 4th of July.”
The July 4th concert “is one of my favorites,” Wolf said. “It’s got a purpose. It’s light music.”
Pavlovsky noted there was plenty of brass to stir the patriotic blood, including six trumpets, two tubas and four cornets.