It will be an evening of red, white and blue when Maestro Andre Raphel and the Wheeling Symphony perform their free annual July 4th concert spectacular at the Heritage Port Amphitheatre. Guest artist will be internationally renowned vocalist and stage performer David Gaschen.
An incredible display of fireworks by Pyrotechnics by Presutti will begin after the concert. Thousands are expected for this patriotic tradition.
The July 4 concert caps a four-day tour by the orchestra with concerts in Weirton, July 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Weir High School soccer field; Clarksburg, July 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Nutter Fort, and Canaan State Park on July 3 at 3 p.m.
The Fourth of July concert in Wheeling will begin at 7:30 p.m. However, families start lining the banks of the Ohio River earlier in the day to take advantage of the many food vendors in the picnic-like festive atmosphere. Vendors will sell their delicious wares beginning at 4 p.m.
Sponsors for the Wheeling concert include: City of Wheeling, Ohio County Commission, Riesbeck's Food Markets, Project BEST, and The Music Performance Trust Fund of the U.S. Recording Industries Local 142. WTRF-TV is the media sponsor.
In the event of inclement weather, the concert will be held at WesBanco Arena.
Gaschen remains best known for the years he devoted to the title character in "The Phantom of the Opera." That success did not arrive overnight; it only seems that way.
Gaschen graduated from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, his home town, in 1993, his degree in vocal performance. He chose to move to Chicago, Ill., to begin his professional career.
He performed in more than 20 musical plays in Chicago -- and was cast by Light Opera Works of Chicago in the leading roles of Frederic in "The Pirates of Penzance," and Karl Franz in "The Student Prince."
Acceptance in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" would not be far behind.
In fact, in May of 1995, he was cast as the alternate for The Phantom in the original Swiss production of "The Phantom of the Opera" in Basel, Switzerland. Even as an alternate, Gaschen averaged three to four performances per week as the Phantom. At age 26, Gaschen had become history's youngest performer cast as the Phantom in a professional production.
Gaschen was a success in Europe. After refining the role of the Phantom over the course of two years in Switzerland, he was contracted to perform the lead in the German production of "The Phantom of the Opera" in Hamburg.
In the summer of 1999, Gaschen found himself walking out on stage to sing for famous Broadway producer Harold Prince. The result was immediate: Gaschen joined the Broadway cast after that audition. He would make his Broadway debut in the title role of "The Phantom of the Opera" in November 1999.
The Wheeling Symphony Society, Inc. serves the residents of its communities by providing excellent orchestral programs which entertain, educate and enhance the quality of life. It was established in 1929 by Mrs. Eleanor D. Caldwell and a group of local musicians as the foundation upon which a Wheeling Symphony Orchestra was born.
The Wheeling Symphony continues to operate on the premise of its founders who were ". . . prompted by a love of music and because we believe a larger musical organization could undertake more comprehensive programs for the entertainment of more people."