Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fire in the Sky

Despite the soggy ground, a large crowd made its way down to Finney Field this evening to observe the Princeton University Orchestra concert and fireworks display. Listeners trickled in during the hour-long concert featuring medleys from "Les Miserables," "My Fair Lady" and "Star Wars." They also gave a reprise of selections from "The Marriage of Figaro," which the Department of Music staged earlier this year.

The audience differed greatly from those who typically attend orchestral concerts. There were many younger children running around, and after someone began distributing glowsticks, parts of the field began to resemble a rave than a orchestra when little hands frantically shook the plastic sticks.

A 25-minute firework display followed the concert, though the accompanying music made it feel more like a continuation of the program. The show used more than 3,000 aerial and ground shells to create the pyrotechnic designs. The music was selected to reference particular Princeton traditions and class reunions. "Jail House Rock" as performed by Elvis Presley was intended as a tribute to the classes of 1963 and 2003, who chose Elvis and Vegas themes, respectively. A ukulele version of "Over the Rainbow" similarly represented the Class of 1993's Hawaiian theme.

The program showcased the spectacular skill and wit of the organizers. When Presley sang "
The warden said, hey, buddy, don't you be no square," a square firework punctuated the sky. While fireworks excel at bombast, as was demonstrated during both the opening as well as the finale, which was set to the William Tell Overture, the display also showed deft handling of the softer songs. The Israel Kamakawiwo'ole version of "Over the Rainbow" is a quiet song, and the accompanying fireworks, many of which appeared similar to waterfalls, accented the song instead of drowning it out.

The display was beautiful. From the oohs of the crowd, it seemed it agreed.