If you’ve never experienced what organizers refer to as “America’s national Independence Day celebration” live and in person, you’re in luck. This year’s 42nd “A Capitol Fourth” marks the concert’s return as a live event at the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building after two years of functioning only as a virtual program broadcast on PBS.
A co-production of WETA and the production company Capital Concerts, this year’s program will also be available across the various PBS channels. The concert culminates in what organizers tout as “the greatest display of fireworks anywhere in the U.S.A.,” a staged spectacle of bombs bursting in air set off from the sides of the Reflecting Pool and “lighting up the iconic D.C. skyline.”
Notably, especially considering the extra time, effort, and expenses associated with ramping back up for a live event after a three-year hiatus, organizers have not scaled back the production. The televised portion alone will involve a team of videographers operating 20 different cameras — which is reportedly “more cameras than ever, including vantage points from rooftop locations across the city.”
The nation’s 246th birthday celebration will also feature an impressive display of showstopping fireworks of the theatrical kind performing from an outdoor stage with the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument in the background.
Mickey Guyton, the Grammy-nominated, barrier-breaking Black country artist, will perform as well as serve as host of this year’s star-studded extravaganza, as illustrious as ever, with highlights including a tribute to the 65th anniversary of West Side Story headlined by Chita Rivera, the show’s original Anita, joined by Oscar-nominated and Emmy-, Grammy-, and Tony-winning powerhouse Cynthia Erivo to perform “Somewhere.”
Yolanda Adams will perform in tribute to the Lincoln Memorial’s 100th anniversary, and Rachel Platten will sing her song “Stand By You” in tribute to military heroes and their families. The lineup includes Gloria Gaynor, Darren Criss, Andy Grammer, Keb’ Mo’, Emily Bear, Jake Owen, and Loren Allred. Accompanying them will be the National Symphony Orchestra under guest pops conductor Jack Everly.
The NSO will be joined by several music groups, including the “Pershing’s Own” United States Army Band in a toast to its 100th anniversary, the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, and the Joint Armed Forces Chorus.
The Monday, July 4, concert is at 8 p.m., with gates opening at 3 p.m. Fireworks are set for approximately 9:09 p.m. Entrances to the West Front of the U.S. Capitol are at 3rd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW and 3rd Street and Maryland Avenue NW. Free.
The show will air in a live simulcast across the PBS network — also carried live in stereo on NPR member stations — with planned rebroadcasts on PBS member stations and Video On Demand streaming options on PBS platforms through July 18. Visit www.pbs.org/a-capitol-fourth or search for @july4thpbs on social media.
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