Star-spangled entertainment

'Big 4' Fort Worth arts groups team up for blockbuster 4th of July concert at Dickies Arena

4 Fort Worth arts groups team up for 4th of July concert at Dickies

Major Attaway in Aladdin on Broadway
Favorite Fort Worth actor Major Attaway, fresh off his starring role as Genie in Aladdin on Broadway, will take part. Photo by Matthew Murphy
Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Midori
Miguel Harth-Bedoya, FWSO's outgoing music director, will lead the concert. Photo by Lawrence Jenkins
Fei Fei Dong
Cliburn laureate Fei-Fei will perform a Chopin waltz.  Photo by Jiyang Chen
Fort Worth Opera Soprano Megan Koch
Fort Worth Opera soprano Megan Koch will sing Puccini. Photo by Julianna Emanski Kim
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Two dancers from Texas Ballet Theater will take part. Photo courtesy of Texas Ballet Theater
Major Attaway in Aladdin on Broadway
Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Midori
Fei Fei Dong
Fort Worth Opera Soprano Megan Koch
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Fort Worth's four premier performing arts organizations are teaming up for a first-ever 4th of July concert at Dickies Arena. Spearheaded by Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the concert, called "America Strong," will also feature performances by artists representing Fort Worth Opera, The Cliburn, and Texas Ballet Theater.

Fort Worth-reared actor/singer and star of Broadway's Aladdin, Major Attaway, will be the principal guest singer. And Miguel Harth-Bedoya, FWSO's outgoing music director, will lead the concert.

Although all four arts groups are resident companies of Bass Hall, they'll take the stage at the much-larger Dickies Arena to ensure proper social distancing measures can be followed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

And although Dickies Arena seats 14,000, an audience won't be present and tickets will not be sold. The pre-recorded concert will air exclusively on WFAA-Channel 8 on Saturday, July 4, at 9 pm. (It will then be available for streaming on the FWSO website for two weeks.)

"The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra is thrilled to bring together several prominent guest artists and Fort Worth arts organizations to be part of the 'America Strong' concert,” says Keith Cerny, FWSO president and CEO, in a release. “This event would not be possible without these talented performing artists, and we hope this concert can help bring hope and healing to our community during these challenging times.”

The program will feature "a diverse group of musicians, composers, and guest artists to reflect the cultural fabric of this country," FWSO says. 

A sneak peek at the program reveals:

  • FWSO will play a repertoire that includes several works composed by prominent black composers, including William Christopher (W.C.) Handy, Scott Joplin, and James Weldon Johnson.
  • Cliburn laureate pianist Fei-Fei will perform a Chopin waltz.
  • FWO Lesley Resident Artist Megan Koch (soprano) will perform Puccini’s famous “O mio babbino caro.”
  • TBT dancers David Schrenk and Andre Silva will perform a piece to "Maple Leaf Rag" from Scott Joplin.

"America Strong" is being funded by sponsors such as Wells Fargo, BNSF Railway, and Frank Kent Cadillac.

The concert marks the first time in more than three months that FWSO musicians have been able to perform together due to COVID-19 restrictions. Their annual "Family Fireworks Picnic," usually a Fort Worth favorite over the 4th of July weekend, was canceled along with the rest of the popular Concerts in the Garden series.

Likewise, the ballet called off several performances throughout DFW, the Cliburn scratched its amateur piano competition, and the opera canceled its entire spring festival. All have been presenting virtual performances and educational shows online. (Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has allowed concert venues to reopen at limited capacity, but so far, no new live-audience concerts in Fort Worth have been announced.)

The concert marks the first time that Fort Worth's "big four" performing arts groups have teamed up for one concert. (Successful onstage collaborations have taken place in recent years — a Cliburn pianist has played for a TBT ballet, and TBT dancers have performed in Fort Worth operas accompanied by FWSO musicians.)

"We are delighted that our young artist will have an opportunity to partake in such a historical moment," says Sheran Goodspeed Keyton, Fort Worth Opera manager of education and community engagement. "It marks one of the first of many virtual concerts to take place during what will certainly become our 'new normal.' Our mission is to use this time to reconnect with as many DFW arts organizations as possible to provide our communities with much-needed creative outlets.”

Adds Mercedes T. Bass, FWSO chairman of the board, "Music is the greatest booster during these devastating times. This collaboration among our arts organizations is a first and will be memorable. These fine artists have come together to offer the magical gift of music and dance to all of us in North Texas and beyond.”