April 29, 2016

An International Independence Day Salute

The National Youth Choir of Scotland and the Chicago Youth Symphonies take stage.

The Grant Park Music Festival’s annual Independence Day Salute is always one of Millennium Park’s most popular concerts of the summer. This year the patriotic Fourth of July tradition returns with a youthful, international twist when the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras and the National Youth Choir of Scotland share the stage.

True to tradition, the annual concert—comprising patriotic stalwarts, from the Armed Forces Salute to “Stars and Stripes Forever”—is led by Christopher Bell, flashily attired in his signature red-white-and-blue regalia. This year, instead of conducting the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, Bell will conduct the National Youth Choir of Scotland, of which he is also artistic director year-round back in his native UK. NYCoS— returning to the Grant Park Music Festival for the first time since 2005 – combines the voices of 110 young men and women ages 25 and under. For the occasion, a few Scottish folk songs will be thrown in for good measure.

“The quality of the National Youth Symphony of Scotland is second to none,” said Bell, who founded the NYCoS in 1996. “They’re an award-winning leading youth organization in the UK. We’re excited to be performing in Chicago, whose architecture is the epitome of aspiration and frontierism.”

The Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, made up of musicians ages 6-18, has a colorful history with the Festival. Last season the CYSO collaborated with Blue Man Group for a medley of classical favorites by Amilcare Ponchielli, Franz von Supp and Richard Wagner. Under the direction of Allen Tinkham, the CYSO is one of the nation's leading youth orchestras.

“This is an exciting event, and it’s a great privilege to preside over it,” said Bell, who is known for his sartorial salutation to the red, white, and blue at the Festival’s Independence Day program each year. “Expect to hear all your favorite pieces, like the 1812 Overture, America, the Beautiful, and more.”

To celebrate the nation’s 240th birthday, Chicagoans are invited to grab a seat down front or pack a picnic on the lawn and take in the sounds of the holiday before shifting their attention to the Navy Pier fireworks visible along the lakefront after the conclusion of the show.

Purchase a One Night Pass for the Independence Day Salute at the Pritzker Pavilion online or call 312.742.7647.