If memory serves, it was 26 years ago that I last heard the San Antonio Symphony perform George Frideric Handel’s ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks,’ an outdoors concert staged in Hemisfair Park against a spectacular backdrop of an 18th century ground-level fireworks display. Back in the 18th century, fireworks dazzled at ground level rather than in colorful arcs exploding high in the sky.
The triumphant music and exploding light display astonished the crowd gathered on a stifling hot evening for the outdoors extravaganza in 1990.
Handel’s ‘Fireworks” is a special piece of music, one that celebrates the end of war and the advent of peace in 18th century Europe. It was originally composed without strings for a military band, a work for winds instruments and drums that showcases the power of brass horns and percussion. Handel later did it his way rather than his King George II’s way and scored the work for a full symphony with oboes, bassoons and strings winning their due. It’s one of the most accessible compositions in the classical repertoire for all of us untrained aficionados, music that stirs the hearts and patriotic spirit of the most casual listener.
The San Antonio’s Symphony will perform ‘Fireworks’ again this Sunday at 7 p.m., this time inside the historic confines of San Fernando Cathedral. Interestingly, funds to complete the original church were secured in 1748 and the work was completed in 1755. Handel composed ‘Fireworks’ in 1849, so the setting is an especially fitting one. Alas, I will be traveling and will miss the performance. The Symphony’s Associate Conductor Akiko Fujimoto will conduct. Ryland Angel from Great Britain will be the countertenor on the Baroque program.
Will you be in the city? Do not miss it. Click here for tickets, which are $30 for adults, $15 for students. Seating is first come, first served.
Featured image: Members of the San Antonio Symphony and the audience for “Fiesta Baroque and San Fernando Cathedral” during Fiesta 2013. Photo by Iris Dimmick.