It will be a patriotic celebration this weekend when the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra holds its annual free Memorial Day concerts, Sounds by the Sea, in Gulfport and Pascagoula.
The Gulfport concert will be Saturday at Jones Park and the Pascagoula concert will be Sunday at Beach Park. For both performances, lawn seating begins at 6 p.m. Pre-concert music will be played at 7 and the Symphony performance will begin at 7:30 p.m.
In Gulfport, the concert will honor 50 veterans from the Armed Forces Retirement Home, as well as 30 female veterans of World War II with the Mississippi Coast Military Officers Association.
The concerts are a celebration of America and those who fought for the country's freedom.
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A growing tradition
It was 17 years ago when the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra held the first concert. Peggy Schloegel, honorary committee member, said the event was created as a means to celebrate veterans in an outdoor, family setting. She also said attendance has grown exceptionally.
"We wanted to have an outdoor concert and Memorial Day, we felt like, is important. We started with one to two thousand, and we had about 8,000 last year," she said.
The Symphony will be under the direction of Peter Rubardt, who also directs the Meridian Symphony and is in his 19th year as director of the Pensacola Symphony. Rubardt holds a musical doctorate from Juliard and is a Fulbright scholar.
Leader of many
He will lead a symphony of some 70 instrumentalists. In Gulfport, the orchestra will be joined by a group from Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, and in Pascagoula they will be joined by a chorus.
The song lineup includes a reprise of the popular tribute to Iwo Jima with taps, the Navy Hymn and the Marine Corps Hymn. Other songs include "Ohio Riverboat," "Victory at Sea," "1812 Overture," "South Pacific" and "God Bless America."
The show will close with a fireworks display.
Lawn chairs or blankets are recommended. Food is allowed, but burgers, pizza, ice cream and more also will be available for purchase.
GCSO opens a new season each September and produces five theater performances in addition to these free holiday concerts.