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Aretha Franklin leads a rousing celebration in D.C.

Thursday, July 04, 2002

By Patricia Brennan, The Washington Post

Aretha Franklin, the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a recipient of the 1994 Kennedy Center Honors, will headline the 31st edition of "A Capitol Fourth" (8 tonight on WQED/WQEX).

Franklin will display her virtuosity by singing one patriotic song ("My Country, 'Tis of Thee"), one of her hits ("Freeway of Love") and a worldwide favorite, "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

The 90-minute concert, featuring the National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of pops conductor Erich Kunzel, airs from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. It will be carried on PBS stations, National Public Radio and Armed Forces Radio and Television Network.

Barry Bostwick, returning as host, is scheduled to get the concert off to a fast start with an opening musical tribute to the nation's flag, including Old Glory's evolution over two centuries.

Richard Chamberlain will preside over an extensive segment marking the centennial of the birth of composer Richard Rodgers, who was born June 28, 1902. Chamberlain, who played Baron Von Trapp in the 1998 Broadway revival of Rodgers' "The Sound of Music," will sing "Edelweiss" from that production and join 24-year-old jazz vocalist Jane Monheit and operatic tenor Jerry Hadley for "It's a Grand Night for Singing."

Monheit and Hadley, at times joined by the Washington Chorale Arts Society and dancers, will perform a collection of songs from musicals Rodgers wrote with lyricists Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II.

Also scheduled: 14-year-old Aaron Carter, whose rendition of "Surfin' USA" is one that executive producer Jerry Colbert hopes will get the audience up and dancing; and country singer Lee Ann Womack, who is scheduled to offer "Something Worth Leaving Behind" and "This Land Is Your Land."

And, on this day celebrating the Declaration of Independence from England, the concert also will feature 27-year-old British tenor Russell Watson. Among Watson's offerings are the Italian song "Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)" and "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's opera "Turandot."

As has become traditional, the symphony will conclude the concert with a rousing, eight-minute portion of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," with U.S. Army cannon firing from the Reflecting Pool; and a medley of marches by John Philip Sousa heralding the beginning of a fireworks display from the Washington Monument grounds.

Other Fourth of July programming tonight includes:

*"In Search of America: A July 4th Musical Celebration": ABC's live, three-hour special at 8, anchored by Peter Jennings will feature musical performances of many styles from across the country, including nationally-known symphonies and small-town music festivals.

Joining Jennings will be noted music folklorist and broadcaster Nick Spitzer, who will help explore the roots and styles of the music featured on the broadcast. Spitzer, host of a weekly syndicated radio program called "American Routes," is a professor of folklore and cultural conservation at the University of New Orleans.

ABC News also will feature the best of the day's celebrations from around the country and festivities that are uniquely American as well, such as fence painting in Missouri, hot-air balloons in Michigan, a Native American powwow in South Dakota, a naturalization ceremony in Virginia, tall ships in Alabama and a polka fest in Wisconsin.

"Pops Goes the Fourth!": The Boston Pops show begins at 7:30 on cable's A&E Network and airs from the Hatch Shell on Boston's Charles River Esplanade.

The program is scheduled to begin with Miss America Katie Marie Harman's rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," continuing with patriotic favorites, a medley of music by composer Richard Rodgers featuring Maureen McGovern; an appearance by Barry Manilow, who will offer "Let Freedom Ring," a work he performed with the Boston Pops at Super Bowl XXXVI; and the West Point Hellcats drum and bugle corps.

According to conductor Keith Lockhart: "This year's Boston Pops concert will not only honor the heroes of 9/11, but also remember those who have died in defense of the very principles we celebrate each and every Fourth of July."

"Star Spangled Salute": In Pittsburgh, WPXI will pre-empt NBC's Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks at 9 p.m. for coverage of Pittsburgh's fireworks display from the Point. The coverage repeats at 11:30 p.m. on PCNC.

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