Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Philharmonic blasts off with Patriotic Pops

Free holiday programs taking place in region to celebrate Fourth of July

Dean Jackson

Whatzup Features Writer

Published June 22, 2022

It’s grown to be one of the best ways to kick off Independence Day around northeast Indiana. 

It’s unapologetically big, bold, and brassy. 

The Fort Wayne Philharmonic’s Patriotic Pops series is headlined by Moonshot: A Homerun Celebration on July 3 at Parkview Field, a tribute to all that makes up the American experience. 

Across the Pond

In delicious irony, a British conductor will lead the celebration at Parkview Field. Music director Andrew Constantine is quick to laugh when he thinks about it.

“I’m more American, because I chose to be an American,” he said. 

That doesn’t mean he won’t play on the notion of being on the wrong side of history when it comes to the American Revolution.

His admission of his British roots brings the emotions of pride and enjoyment to concertgoers, while being able to poke fun at himself.

“Together,” he said. “Using all of that together is what makes up a rather complicated musician from the north of England who now lives in Maryland, and conducts in Indiana.”

A Series of Patriotic Events

The July 3 event is the penultimate, marquee event of the Patriotic Pops series. 

The tour began June 24 at DeKalb Outdoor Theater in Auburn before visiting Oakwood Resort in Syracuse, Pokagan State Park in Angola, and Bixler Lake Park in Kendallville, and is conducted by Caleb Young, the Philharmonic’s guest conductor for engagement.

Patriotic Pops travels to introduce people to the Philharmonic in a non-threatening way. Constantine said it’s important for people to understand that just because they aren’t familiar with classical or orchestra music doesn’t mean they have to be intimidated.

Constantine said Patriotic Pops gives concertgoers a chance to experience a new level of music performance with familiar tunes.

“There’s a lot of stuff that goes on that makes up the musical fabric of America, without all the intimidation,” he said. “Patriotic Pops is a fun, peppy, upbeat night of fun.”

The July 3 concert at Parkview Field will feature Armed Forces tributes, classics like “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and subtle tips of the hat to American culture with a Beach Boys medley, fireworks, the Star Wars theme, John Phillip Sousa marches including “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and Tchaikovsky’s “Overture of 1812.” 

Even though it’s an homage to Russian resistance of France, it’s become a holiday favorite. Its tradition dates to the Boston Pops in 1970.

Constantine said he worked hard to paint a unique yet powerful picture with his musical selections.

“I think there’s a real collection here of everything that’s positive about the American spirit and the American vision,” he said. 

You have a juxtaposition of such, like “Good Vibrations,” “California Girls,” and “When Jesus Wept.” 

The concert also includes Fort Wayne native Ian Williams as host.  He’ll lead a ballpark singalong and the national anthem.

There will be a presentation highlighting the 100th anniversary of the birth of renowned fashion icon Bill Blass, who was born in Fort Wayne and died in 2002.

Lest concertgoers forget the venue is a ballpark, many of the features of a TinCaps baseball game will be available, including concessions, mascot Johnny TinCap, and access to the batting cages. 

Admission is free with gates opening at 6:30 p.m.

Proud To Be An American

Constantine said the Homerun Celebration is worth the effort that is put into it. It also adds to his pride in his American citizenship.

“People love it because it means so much deep down,” he said. “And I honestly think that when people go to the Fourth of July, they’re thinking about so many aspects of their lives, rather than just the euphoria that’s going on around the music.”

He said it’s also a practical way to understand what it means to be an American. “It’s very important to us to reflect on the sacrifices people have made, which is why doing something like an Armed Forces medley is so important.”

In every note, every beat, there’s this message that expresses an American independence, resilience, and special connectedness to the world community. And a country with people of all backgrounds who want to do the right thing.

“Most of the world says, ‘They’re just Americans, and that’s their problem,’ ” Constantine said. “But a high percentage of people around the world also hope they’ll live in America, because they see an aspirational society and an aspirational way of life.

“The notion of an American dream means a lot of things to a lot of different people, but fundamentally it’s an opening, an opportunity, and it’s what you make of it,” he added.

Even with historical problems, America still has a lot to admire, Constantine said.

“We’re accused of a lot in this country,” he said. “And I can understand that, because it kind of hearkens to the past, which probably wasn’t as ideal as people like to think. At the same time, there were a lot of great values within those times that are carried forward.”

Constantine said it’s a special night for a special place: something that says “Only in America.”

“It’s hard not to get swept along with the (Parkview) concert, with the whole evening,” he said. “It brings the whole community together, and it shows one fundamental that I think is an important part of the message, which is that music unites like nothing else does. You can feel a bond with the person next to you, and it’s through the music that spins it.”

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