WATERTOWN — The Orchestra of Northern New York has selected tunes from Broadway blockbusters to be the centerpiece for its annual birthday bash for the nation.
“Broadway on Demand” will be presented by the orchestra at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Thompson Park in Watertown and at 7 p.m. Wednesday at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall.
“We’re doing five blockbusters of top-flight Broadway works,” said Kenneth B. Andrews, music director/conductor and founder of the orchestra. “And they’re also five works that are still going like crazy.”
The annual concert at Thompson Park is organized and sponsored by Watertown Noon Rotary and the city of Watertown with support from the Northern New York Community Foundation. It’s an Operation Yellow Ribbon event. The volunteer-based group promotes support for area soldiers and families through such events.
Thompson Park festivities on Tuesday will begin at 5 p.m. with the Double Barrel Blues Band. It will be the third time in a row that the band has opened for the yearly celebration.
The band, in its 11th year, has opened for national acts such as the Marshall Tucker Band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Savoy Brown. It mainly performs original songs. They are multiple winners in the Upper State Independent Awards in the best blues music category. They were nominated for two Syracuse Area Music Awards (SAMMY) in blues for their 2010 album “Night Train Home” and for their 2014 album “Can You Feel It?”
Double Barrel Blues Band consists of drummer Garnet Grimm Sr., Mark Cloutier on lead guitar, vocals; John Hart, guitar/vocals and Bill Satterly, bass guitar. Mr. Cloutier has been recognized as one of the area’s best guitarists and has released solo albums highlighting those skills.
The official welcome at the Watertown celebration is at 7:30 p.m., before the orchestra begins at 8. Fireworks will be launched at the end of the concert at approximately 9:30 p.m.
The annual “Summer Pops” concert by the orchestra in both communities is also a salute to veterans and current members of the military. This year, the orchestra will also musically mark the 75th-anniversary of D-Day.
Before launching the Broadway tunes, the orchestra will present a brief barrage of patriotic songs such as “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Liberty Fanfare” by John Williams, a piece commissioned to celebrate the Centennial of the Statue of Liberty in 1986.
During the playing of the “Armed Forces Salute,” audience members who are current military or veterans will be asked to stand and be acknowledged for the service and sacrifice to our country as the themes from the individuals branches of the armed services are presented.
For the “pops” part, Mr. Andrews selected music from “My Fair Lady,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Hamilton,” “Les Miserables” and “Phantom of the Opera” for the two concerts.
“I always have a hard time, when we do movie themes or Broadway because there’s so much great music to pick from and I don’t like to repeat,” Mr. Andrews said.
The selections range from 1956 when “My Fair Lady” began its Broadway run to 2015 when “Hamilton” premiered.
“We’re doing an arrangement from ‘Hamilton,’” Mr. Andrews said. “The great thing about arrangements is that you get more of a taste of the entire musical.”
A tradition for the Watertown concert will continue this year in its second half when the orchestra presents Peter I. Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” with the help of Howitzers from the 10th Mountain Division’s 2-6 Field Artillery. “Stars and Stripes Forever” will conclude the program in both communities.
Mr. Andrews, a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, retired this month after 33 years at the college and after 47 years of total teaching. He’ll continue his duties with the orchestra, which he founded and is in its 31st season.