The View From 32


JULY 5, 2007   More below: BEACHWORK

Culture in public

Public Square, that is.

One of the year's best cultural events the Cleveland Orchestra outdoors concert on Public Square, downtown Cleveland. Usually on July 5th, it brings out tens of thousands of people—all ages, sizes and colors—who camp out on folding chairs or blankets to listen to a rousing selection of classical and patriotic favorites.

We've walked downtown to take it in many times, and this year decided at the last minute to go. There was a big crowd despite the fact that nearly half of the Square was fenced off due to construction. We couldn't sit in our usual spot around the intersection of Superior and Ontrario, but we found a good place at the edge of the crowd where we could sort of see the big video screen as well as the actual orchestra.

The problem with bringing culture to the masses, of course, is that the masses aren't necessarily all that interested. People treat it more as an event than a concert, meaning lots of talking during the music. In the quieter passages voices pretty much drown out the orchestra. Believe it or not, there's music being played in the clip below:

Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture, on the other hand, a favorite that people recognize, is loud enough to hold its own:

The concert always ends with "Stars and Stripes" forever, and from the first note the crowd claps along:

When it finished this last number, the orchestra got an ovation like a rock band. Pretty fun stuff.

T he weather was nearly perfect, although a cool wind started blowing near the end. This forced the organizers to cancel the scheduled fireworks, sending lots of people, especially kids, home disappointed. Although I'm not a fireworks enthusiast, I have to say that this particular display is pretty spectacular because it's set off in the canyon formed by tall buildings surrounding the Square. Even I was disappointed.


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