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22 May 2008

Musical Memorial Day:
Music at McClellan Opens
with 'Stars and Stripes Pops'


Photo: Trent Penny/The Anniston Star, Illustration by Deirdre Long/The Anniston Star

By Trace William Cowen
Special to The Star

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Certain summer nights can leave one feeling a bit mournful over fun to be had that was, for any number of reasons, ignored or forgotten altogether. These same summer nights remind a person of the inescapable beauty of the nighttime sky, and how much of it is wasted on the couch watching Anderson Cooper 360 or Leave it to Beaver marathons.

If you're saving that aged bottle of Château Margaux for a special occasion, then stop what you're reading, turn off the TV, pour a couple glasses and prepare to make some plans that will surely rid you of any upcoming summer nights spent mourning the death of a good time. Join fellow "fun-enthusiasts" for what will certainly be one of the most spectacular and profoundly rewarding experiences of your life — this summer's season of the wildly successful Music at McClellan concert series.

Let the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and various, equally talented friends initiate your escape with the best summer nights under the stars you'll ever experience. You may arrive feeling droll and distracted, but you'll leave with a renewed sense of passion and a smile almost too wide for any person to comfortably achieve.

Help properly usher in some Memorial Day spirit this Saturday with "Stars & Stripes Pops," a symphonic tribute to the American military both home and abroad.

Last year's wildly popular tribute to the Star Wars trilogy will surely inspire repeat success with this season's presentation of "Harry Potter & Friends" featuring the breathtaking compositions of Academy Award winning composer John Williams (Harry Potter, Jaws, Star Wars, Indiana Jones) on May 31.

You and your Mamma Mia can dance like queens during "ABBA: The Hits" on June 7. "The Hits," a musical story performed by Swedish cover band Waterloo with help from the ASO, will be more relevant than ever with the upcoming release of Mamma Mia (starring Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep), the big-screen adaptation of the popular musical based on ABBA's biggest hits. If you can't thoroughly enjoy ABBA, then please re-evaluate your life — now.

Grab the mini-van and kidnap the family on June 14 for "Classics Under the Stars," including the annual "Firing of the Cannon," even more enjoyable thanks to a few Civil War re-enactors and several classic compositions (including Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture") conducted by Christopher Confessore.

So, for at least four days this summer, you'll have absolutely no excuse to quietly settle for TV Land and Godzilla-sized boredom. Boredom can put up a strong fight, but — for the summer, at least — you claim a victory reminiscent of Ali in his prime; an inarguable knockout.

'Stars & Stripes Pops'

What: Alabama Symphony Orchestra performance
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
Where: McClellan's Longleaf Park
How much: $20 advance, $25 at gate, $5 children 4-12, free for children 3 and under
Contact: 310-0852

Tips and information

Parking: Take Batzell Gate Road off U.S. 21 in Anniston. Turn right and follow the signs. Attendants will direct you to the best parking and then to the concert. All parking is within a short walk to the concert area.

Restrooms: Portable toilets are located around the concert site.

Vendors: A variety of food and drinks, including pizza, Polish sausage, hot dogs, corn dogs, nachos, Italian shaved ice and soft drinks, are available.

Picnic and lounge: Pack your own food and drink to picnic under the stars. Bring as much as you feel comfortable carrying: Blankets, folding chairs, tables, candles and binoculars are all good ideas.

How long? The concert park opens at 6 p.m. for tailgating and picnics, and the concerts are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. The shows usually end around 9:30-10 p.m.

Weather: Since the musicians will be covered from the elements, the show will go on rain or shine, unless the weather is severe.

Electronics/photos: Turn off your cell phone and other noisemakers before the concert begins. Photography before the show is fine, but no flash will be allowed during the performance.

Seating: The stage is raised about six feet above the ground, allowing for an unobstructed view for all. A blanket- only area is directly in front of the stage.

See story at The Anniston Star's website: .

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