The Fourth of July is a time for patriotism and patriotic music. But what is patriotism, and what makes a song patriotic? A trio of distinguished Southern Nevadans tried to answer that question for State of Nevada.
When asked if she’s patriotic, classical pianist and Las Vegas native Alexandria Le said, “That is a complex question.”
“I feel like the word ‘patriotic’ has been appropriated for not genuine or sincere reasons over the last couple of years,” she said, “but if we look at the broader definition, I do love my hometown, my country.”
Le said she, like many Asian-Americans, has faced harassment over the last 18 months, but she’s optimistic that our ongoing racial reckoning will lead to a better day.
“All of these demonstrations are leading to conversations that have needed to happen for so long,” she told State of Nevada.
She said her favorite patriotic song is George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” which Le says captures the vibrancy and optimism of the nation in the midst of the Roaring 20s a century ago.
Former Sen. Richard Bryan, who said he is partial to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” agreed that the United States is a flawed country, but one in pursuit of a more perfect union.
“In the past, we have tended to gloss over some of the less flattering” chapters of our history, he said, “but it should not overlook the greatness of America and the things that we did right, and how many people benefited.”
Las Vegas Philharmonic Music Director Donato Cabrera said patriotic music provides an emotional connection to our past.
“It speaks to the beginnings and origins of our great country. The idea of freedom. The idea of independence. The idea of breaking free from tyranny,” he said. “These themes run deep, not only in our culture but the music.”
The maestro said he looks forward to resuming the philharmonic’s traditional Fourth of July concerts, which were scratched this year and last because of the pandemic.
The philharmonic resumes its schedule in the fall and will feature a seven-concert series that will perform all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies.
“It’s unlike anything we’ve ever done,” Cabrera said.
Richard Bryan, former senator and governor; Alexandria Le, concert pianist, philanthropist; Donato Cabrera, music director, Las Vegas Philharmonic
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