WEIRTON -The Wheeling Symphony will perform downtown at the Weirton Event Center today as the free concert kicks off Independence Day celebrations in the city of Weirton.
Area residents are being encouraged to participate in local Fourth of July celebrations and the city is hosting the free concert beginning at 7 p.m. for the 21st year, made possible through the Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitor's Bureau, the City of Weirton, the Weirton Community Foundation and Tri-State Medical Group.
"We are glad to be able to bring this concert to the city once again at no cost to the residents," said Dan Wilson, Weirton Community Foundation president. "Since the opening of the Weirton Event Center, we decided it would be a great venue for the event and we are thankful to the local sponsors and CVB for allowing us to host this annual event at the new facility."
Wilson said those involved with the Wheeling Symphony came to check out the Weirton Event Center several weeks ago to check the sound systems and take measurements for additional stage room. He said last year's attendance reached 1,200 people and he hopes to see a good crowd once again.
Andre Raphel will serve as the music director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra. According to organizers, he has established a reputation as an exciting and versatile conductor through innovative programming and a strong commitment to American music. Praised by the New York Times as "an agile, demonstrative conductor who is physically drawn into the music," Raphel is currently in his ninth season with the Wheeling Symphony.
The Wheeling Symphony also will perform with special guest Johnny Staats, who caught the bluegrass bug at a young age. With his mother playing piano, his father playing on the guitar and his sister on the banjo, Staats would get his first mandolin at the age of 7 and continue throughout his life.
J.J. Bernabei of Tri-State Medical Group, event sponsor, said he is pleased to once again see a community event that reaches out to all ages return to the city. He said he was happy to be able to provide assistance to bring such a high quality sound like the Wheeling Symphony to Weirton.
"The city has supported this event since its inception," said Mayor George Kondik.
Those planning to attend the event are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. Parking for the event will be available at the Municipal Plaza parking lot and surrounding lots.