More than 1,300 gather for 2017 Celebration of the Arts with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra at Canaan Valley State Park

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Photo by Beth Christian Broschart
The Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Andrè Raphel, performs many patriotic favorites including ‘The Star Spangled Banner,’ ‘America the Beautiful,’ ‘1812 Overture’ and ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’ during the Celebration of the Arts at Canaan Valley State Park Sunday. This year’s performance attracted more than 1,300 spectators – one of the largest crowds in many years.

DAVIS – Tucker County offers many opportunities to celebrate July 4 but the Celebration of the Arts has been a favorite for 27 years. The Wheeling Symphony Orchestra always draws a huge crowd, and this year’s event at Canaan Valley State Park had more than 1,300 fans in attendance for the July ‘Celebrate America!’ tour.


Conductor of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra Andre Raphel welcomed those in attendance and said on this weekend, they celebrate the spirit of this great country.

“This concert features patriotic favorites, Americana music, show tunes and music by John Williams,” Raphel said. “We will also have a very special performance by a wonderful vocalist, Hugh Panaro.”

The first piece performed was “Liberty Fanfare,” which Williams composed for the rededication of the Statue of Liberty which was followed by favorites such as “American Salute,” “Country Roads” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

Vocalist Panaro played the role of the Phantom in Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera more than 2,000 times and he performed on tunes including “Bring Him Home,” from Les Miserables and “You Got Trouble” from The Music Man.

The Celebration of the Arts is presented by the Tucker County Alpine Festival Inc., Canaan Valley Resort State Park, Mountain Top Realty & Rentals, Q & A Associates, Tucker County Parks & Recreation Commission, the Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau and in conjunction with the West Virginia Arts Festival. The concert is made possible in part through the generous support of the Gaston Caperton Music for the Mountain State Endowment Fund. Special thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts and the West Virginia Department of Culture and History, Arts and Humanities Division.

The Tucker County Alpine Festival Board said this event is made possible through considerable efforts of many volunteers and is funded by a complicated patchwork of individual and corporate contributions, foundation support and grants. Donations made by the audience and proceeds earned from the sale of T-shirts help fund the performance.

The Festival Board wishes to thank Canaan Valley Resort State Park, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the Kenneth “Honey” Rubenstein Juvenile Center, the Tucker County Emergency Medical Services, the West Virginia State Police, the Tucker County Sheriff, the West Virginia Department of Highways, the Rotary Club of Tucker County and Golf Express.