Music and fireworks in the open air.
by Orville Bach
From rodeos to river floats, Fourth of July weekend is jam-packed with activity, but there’s one event you should mark as can’t-miss on your calendar. It happens only once a year, it’s fun and exciting, and best of all, it’s free. I’m speaking, of course, of the renowned Bozeman Symphony’s outdoor concert under the stars, Festival of the Fourth.
Now, we’re not talking slow classical minuets, but rather inspiring and lively pops tunes, as explosive as the post-performance fireworks display. So plan to hop on your bike and ride over to the Gallatin County Fairgrounds for an exciting treat on the evening of July 4.
Just imagine relaxing in a lawn chair, gazing at the alpenglow bathing the Bridgers, while the Bozeman Symphony plays moving, patriotic music. The entire evening is a sensory delight, beginning with an assortment of tasty food choices from various vendors and culminating with an explosion of light amid the dark summer sky.
Around 9pm, as twilight envelops the Gallatin Valley and jackets slide over shivering shoulders, conductor Matthew Savery takes the stage. His enthusiasm and personality reflecting the towering mountains behind him, Savery bellows a hearty welcome to the crowd and introduces the orchestra. Draped over the stage is a massive, contoured bandshell for lighting and acoustics.
The music starts, and for the next 90 minutes – while darkness obscures sight and enhances sound – the audience enjoys a wide range of symphonic selections. Maestro Savery always saves the most rousing rendition for last, and it culminates in perfect time with the fireworks exploding overhead. The symphony gives way to recorded music, and for the next half-hour, the sky blazes with light as classic, freedom-themed songs pour from the speakers. If you don’t get goose bumps listening to this inspiring music while fireworks detonate overhead in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains, you need to check your pulse.
Festival of the Fourth is free and open to the public, with donations accepted for the event’s sponsor, the Gallatin Empire Lions Club. Bleachers are available, but plan on bringing a light, a portable chair, and a blanket for closer, more comfortable seating — and get there early. The hassle of parking and traffic congestion can be easily avoided by riding your bike to the event. Just remember to have adequate lighting on your bike and helmet for a safe return trip.
Enjoy the show.