Now listen! …
I suspect you have a list of things you want to do before you shuffle off this mortal coil … and I want you to promise me you’ll add this one to your list … go and see a performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture performed outdoors with real cannon and fireworks. I promise you it is something to see and hear!
Performances of this kind are few and far between yes (in fact less than 10 locations worldwide), but if you live within driving distance of Canada’s first capital city, Kingston, Ontario, you can see the Kingston Symphony Association perform the piece once a year in the grandiose surroundings of Fort Henry. They call the show, appropriately enough, “1812 at the Fort“.
As a footnote here … and to ensure our American friends (who, with respect, often feel the world revolves around themselves) know how to correctly answer this should it arise on Jeopardy … the 1812 Overture was written to commemorate Russia’s 1812 defense against Napoleon‘s advancing Grande Armée at the Battle of Borodino. Sorry, it’s the trained historian in me coming out.
I feel we (on this side of the Atlantic) often associate the War of 1812, which most Canadians remember as a victory by avoiding American conquest, with the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. For Canadians, Major-General Issac Brock’s defeat of the Americans at The Battle of Queenston Heights (13 October 1812) had the effect of uniting Canada as a identity and nation separate from both America and Britain. O Canada!
1) the view from our hotel room of Kingston City Hall in day; 2) and night
3 & 4) Fort Henry
5) me with my big gun; 6) G riding the big gun
7) the view of Kingston from the Fort; 8) army encampment
9) inside the Fort
10 & 11) the inside courtyard and staging
12) Kingston Symphony Association; 13) the Abrams Brothers perform before intermission
14) intermission; 15) the 1812 starts
Well, okay, failing ever to see a performance, here is the last 1:11 of the Kingston show from Friday, July 18th, 2008 as filmed by (shaky hand), me. Turn volume up LOUD and turn off my site music over on the left.
Oh nice – I had no idea we had this in Kingston! I gotta check it out.
I believe it’s quite spectacular watching the fireworks and hearing the canons firing at the same time! And thank you for the history lesson!! By the way, someone seems very happy riding on the big gun!! LOL
Excellent music. True story. I went with a family whose sons were in the trumpet section to hear the 1812 Overture at a sport field which was surrounded by seating. The parents had no idea why they needed all those canons on the field and what seemed to be a lot of musicians. Well, when the canons fired the dad jumped up and looked for cover. He was in the war and was immediately moved to protect his family. Then the churches surrounding the stadium started to ring their bells and he understood what was happening. I guess I should have warned him.