The Cleveland Orchestra’s Star-Spangled Spectacular

On the evening of Tuesday, July 2nd, we went to downtown Cleveland not only to attend the 25th Annual Star-Spangled Spectacular featuring the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Mr. Loras John Schissel but to ask people what the evening meant to them and why they were here.
We must have spoken with 25 people and were surprised that not too many said they were here for the fireworks; instead it was that they got to see our beloved Cleveland Orchestra for free and that they enjoyed being part of Cleveland’s coming together for this event.

Here are a few of the things that they said:

*** “I like the mixture of cultures and I believe that this is attractive to people…And you can’t go wrong with free concerts. Never!”

*** “Nice night…party mood for the holidays…it’s free…I’m probably here for the music…I can see fireworks anywhere…”

*** “Can’t beat the orchestra, it’s fabulous! And just coming down here with all of these people…I am from Wooster and it is one of my favorite events.”

*** “it brings the whole city together in a moment of joy”

*** “it is free and accessible and every walk of life gets to enjoy the concert”

*** “it’s our country’s birthday and it represents diversity in terms of bringing community together to hear the wonderful music that our Cleveland Orchestra produces…I think that everyone comes because they want to hear the Cleveland Orchestra.”


One of our favorite quotes was from a man named Mr. Gary Ponyicky who is from Parma and says that he “is not bragging…not complaining…just statin'” about his city of origin. Mr. Ponyicky said that the Star-Spangled Spectacular was great because “it exposes culture to the city and to individuals who cannot afford to go to Blossom…it exposes kids to real music by the masters which is important…” Mr. Ponyicky said that great music and events like tonight are “the theme of a civilized culture if not the theme of civilization.” And he was more than happy to pose for a photo.
Gary Ponyicky

What we liked the most about the concert is that it started off with appropriately rousing 4th of July appropriate music from the movies by way of excerpts from Jerry Goldsmith’s scores from “MacArthur” and “Patton”. Of course we loved it when the orchestra played John Williams’ theme from “Superman” a short time later to signify that Cleveland has been used several times lately as a film location.

As we were leaving, we asked one more person who was a young vendor about what he/she thought the significance of tonight was and here is the reply that we received:

“People celebrating Independence Day is always a great thing and it is great to see so many people listening to orchestra music because I was afraid that people were not listening to it enough these days…plus people from the suburbs are coming here for this concert and they will see how accessible downtown is and they will see how nice Cleveland has become in the last couple of years because there are flowers everywhere and it is a lot cleaner…After the concert people will wander over to see the chandelier and it looks awesome and then they will wander to restaurants and be pleasantly surprised at what they will find…Cleveland is creepin’ on and comin’ up!”