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Charlotte Symphony kicks of Fourth of July week in Kannapolis

KANNAPOLIS — Friday afternoon found nearly 14,000 people perched in lawn chairs and spread out over blankets at the Village Park amphitheater.

The masses gathered for a free performance by the Charlotte Symphony, followed by what emcee Larry Sprinkle called one of the largest fireworks displays in the Southeast.

Neither the music nor the booming after-show would disappoint as folks enjoyed packed picnics and vendors’ goods alike.

Mayor Darrell Hinnant gave credit for the massive celebration to city Parks Director Gary Mills.

“This was his vision seven years ago as we started this thing up,” said Hinnant. “… All the grant money, all the things that went into building this facility, Gary helped bring that to Kannapolis.”

Concertgoers gathered from near and far, including Jim and Jean Houston, who made the trip from Harrisburg.

“We saw the symphony in Harrisburg about two weeks ago, so we followed them up here,” said Jim Houston with a smile.

Jean Houston said this year’s crowd was one of the biggest she’d yet seen at the annual Charlotte Symphony Village Park performance.

Singer Nathan Angelo opened the festivities, showing off his jazz-like vocals from behind the keyboard.

Angelo played a mix of originals and tried-and-true classics, including a piece he called “Dancing Through the Rain” and “Stand By Me,” to name a few.

His performance was followed by the evening’s only glitch, a small fire in the electrical panel of the Village Park Building. It was quickly extinguished.

The show moved onward unaffected, electrically or otherwise, with the Charlotte Symphony led by enthusiastic Conductor Albert-George Schram.

“We can at least soft-rock your face off, right?” Schram said in a gentle tease as the patriotic, Independence Day-inspired performance began.

Schram praised the audience for its early participation in singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“We are so grateful we’re here with you this evening because you’re famous,” he said. “You know how to get down with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, and we love that.”

All pieces in the performance centered on patriotism, including “Soldier’s Farewell,” a medley of armed services themes and marches, “Yankee Doodle” and more.

After a secondary crowd sing-along of “America the Beautiful,” the concert ended with a passionate “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

It was followed by a 15-minute display of fireworks, generating “oohs” and “aahs” all around.

The pyrotechnic show featured all sorts of fun surprises: explosions that twinkled or arched, and some that spread in the shape of smiley faces and hearts.

With rockets whistling, the show also ended with “Stars and Stripes Forever,” encapsulating the evening as a perfect start to a week of July Fourth festivities.

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