Sunday, July 5, 2009

Performing for Thousands & Thousands

Every year, the City of Virginia Beach puts on a
4th of July extravaganza full of free entertainment at the oceanfront,
culminating in a joint performance by the city's symphony orchestra, Symphonicity,
and my group, The Virginia Beach Chorale.
The concert is timed so that as we are performing our last piece, the fireworks start over our heads.

This is a lot of fun for us, and we get to perform for tens of thousands of people,
at least 150 more than normally come to one of our concerts.
Yeah, right.
The music is piped all up & down the boardwalk, so everyone gets to hear it.

WE all congregate at the large parking lot by the Convention center, 6 blocks from the beach,
to get on our buses for our police escort.
Trouble is, the police escort there didn't end up doing much good, as the traffic was horrendous.

(Sorry OBX'ers, you got nuthin' on us for bad traffic)

We had a visitor in the parking lot.
These scantily clad ladies passed out some Red Bull to some guys
who probably didn't even want some, if you know what I mean.
But they couldn't be rude, right? Heh.

When we got off the bus, this is what greeted us.
Ahh, the joys of a holiday weekend at the beach.

(lines of people waiting to use the showers to wash off the sand)

Our stage was set up on the sand at 20th street, and, let me tell you,
the city spared no expense for the comfort of their performers.

I wonder is these poor people know that the concert doesn't start for another 2 1/2 hours?

Walking onto the stage and looking out is mighty impressive, let me tell you.

The beach was PACKED, as it should be on a clear, sunny day with temps in the 80's and a nice breeze.

We had a brief rehearsal and sound check.
The young lady you see at the front is Felicia Barton, of American Idol fame & a Virginia Beach resident.
She will be singing "God Bless America" with us.

That's our new director, Don Krudop over there under the tent, helping with the sound check, because
"the sound guys are all rockers, and all they know is loud."

And David Kunkel, the conductor of Symphonicity.
(He will be in formal wear for the concert.)

We are enormously blessed to have 2 such gifted individuals to lead us in music.

Funny story about Dave - the first year we did this, it was a learning experience for us all.
The people who put up the stage evidently thought that, since it was open in the front,
there would be enough ventilation, and they didn't need anything else to circulate the air.

Ohhh, noooooooo.
It was stifling in there.
No fans.
No breeze.
No water.

Dave had on a red bow tie with his formal white clothes, and he was sweating so badly,
the red dye in the tie bled all over the front of his shirt.
Looked like someone cut his throat.

Since then, we have had cold bottles of water and large cooling air circulators.

We broke for dinner, and I took the stroll among the hoards to see the sights along 'the strip':

The city hires street corner musicians to perform along Atlantic avenue.

The ever-present junky souvenir stores that are at every beach in the world.
It's a requirement. Really. It's in the resort strip handbook.

And I don't know what the hell these guys were doing. I was afraid to ask.

I wasn't really very hungry, but here's my thinking.
Tomorrow, I can't eat anything, so tonight, this is going to be my dinner.

Honestly, with these 2 ginormous events happening on different weekends, how is a visitor to choose . . .

The city is a "family-friendly resort", and as such, we have just a few rules for everyone, doncha know?
They even spill over into merchandising. Potty mouths can stay home, thanks.
Although as I walked along, I heard more than a few 'f@#cks' myself.

Throughout the day, there is music playing along the street.
In an attempt to sooth the savage beast (tourist & resident alike),
the city plays fun music during the day & early evening out of speakers that line the sidewalk.
Then, late at night, when the bars are in full swing,
the music turns soothing and the BRIGHT lights come on,
illuminating everything, including (unfortunately) some hotel rooms.

Gotta keep the drunken rabble under control.

These caused quite a controversy when they were implemented, particularly among the bar owners.
And the owners of hotel rooms facing Atlantic Avenue.

These speakers and lights completely line the east side of the street, facing the west side of the street,
since most of the bars line the west side.

When we made our way back to the stage, more concert-goers had filled the sand . . .

. . . and the fireworks barge could be seen making it's way into position.

They passed out little American flags to all the performers for us to wave around during the last number.
I looked at mine, and, there is something seriously wrong with this.

I wish I had a picture of the beach after the sun went down and all the lights went on, but snapping pictures during the concert would have been a little much, I think.
But, trust me, there was little available sand space.
I don't remember when I took this one, but it wasn't during the concert.
Honest Dr. K. I think it was at the end.

I did, however, surreptitiously turn on my video during a couple of the symphony's numbers.
They are at the end of the post.

At the end of the concert, they hustled us back to the buses so fast, we couldn't appreciate the fireworks.
I glanced back a few times to get these . . .

. . . but they pale in comparison to the grandeur we all missed.

Our bus driver was a genius, a master, a virtuoso of driving.
He was able to manoeuver that bus around obstacles you wouldn't believe.
No cars were sideswiped or crushed. No pedestrians were squished.
No traffic cones lost their lives. He almost took out a police cruiser. But didn't.
A stunt driver couldn't have done a better job.
He earned applause from his passengers.
And the musical tie was coincidence.

And lastly, I leave you with this image of a place on my way home.
In the daytime, it (a golf store) isn't nearly as funny.

Click on the videos to see the crowds, hear the orchestra tuning up,
hear samples of the music that the symphony played,
and/or see the fireworks as the bus pulled away.

I'll get the other videos up soon. It takes a long time to upload those.

Edited to add - forget those last 2 videos. The other concert one still wouldn't finish uploading even after letting it go overnight, and the fireworks one wasn't that good anyway.


Anonymous said...

There is never a good reason to go to the Va Beach resort area. Period. And to go at a time when there are that many people is just plumb loco! I don't miss it at all, but am glad you had a good time.

Kathy said...

Oh, I don't know about that. I can thing of good times to go - like October, November, March & April. Summer? I avoid it like the plague.

Sista G said...

Glad you had a good time, but too bad you didn't get to see the fireworks!

How did the C go today?