RED BANK: MUSICAL FIREWORKS FOR THE 4TH

Conductor Sameer Patel, below, leads the New Jersey Symphony in an open-air display of musical Americana overlooking the Navesink River from Marine Park Sunday night. (Click to enlarge.)

It’s been five years now since Red Bank heralded the Independence Day holiday with a bang and a kaboom with the cancellation of its long fireworks-on-the-Navesink tradition. But as relatively quiet as things have been of late during the Fourth of July interlude, there’s celebratory music in the air.

This Sunday, two events — one of them a community happening of long standing, the other representing something new down by the riverside — bring the sound and the classic American spirit to the Greater Green.

That something new is a “Sunday in the Park” free performance by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in Marine Park. Before that, the borough’s landmark Tower Hill Church celebrates flag and country with the 29th edition of the annual Liberty Extrvaganza.

First Presbyterian Church on Tower Hill is the setting for the annual Liberty Extravaganza on Sunday, capping an evening of strawberries and Dixieland on the patio. 

The musically minded ministry and acoustically friendly sanctuary at First Presbyterian usually play heavenly host to sublimely sacred oratorios, chamber pieces and modern choral compositions. But there’s plenty of room for crowd-pleasing corn-on-the-cob from the likes of George M. Cohan and more when the Liberty Choir (under the direction of Adam Peithmann and accompaniment of Nicole Cochran), guest soloists and brass ensemble roll out a traditional program of all-American patriotic marches, gospel hymns and popular singalong songs at 7:30 p.m.

A salute to the armed forces pays tribute to the men and women who have served the nation in uniform, and the evening concludes with the playing of the National Anthem, and the raising of the church’s very grand flag.

Doors open 6:45 p.m., with general seating available on a first come, first served basis, and early arrival recommended. To sweeten the appeal, First Presbyterian once again presents a pre-concert Strawberry Festival, scheduled for 5 p.m. on the church patio. A selection of homemade strawberry desserts will be available for a $5 charge (proceeds supporting the church’s ongoing concert series), with live open-air entertainment by the returning Hot Taters Hot Jazz and Dixieland Band.

From Tower Hill’s town-topping perch, we take it down to the river, where Marine Park — home to new public restrooms and lighting fixtures — as the NJSO and conductor Sameer Patel roll in (via truck-rigged portable stage) for a concert of selections that range from Aaron Copland’s classic cowboy ballet Rodeo, to the John Williams score for the Steven Spielberg film Lincoln.

As Red Bank RiverCenter executive director Jim Scavone told redbankgreen in May, the orchestra’s summer-season “Road Trip Across the USA” touring program offers “a classic, family-oriented celebration” that represented “would be awesome when paired with the beautiful setting of the Navesink River and Marine Park.”

A variety of local merchants and eateries are slated to offer take-out specials and other incentives as part of a “Shop, Dine and Enjoy Local” promotion leading up to the evening’s event. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets, and to arrive early in order to stake out first-come/ first-served seating on the grassy slope of the park’s natural amphitheater.

Just in case Mother Nature threatens to bring things to a thundering crescendo, the action moves indoors to the auditorium of the Count Basie Theatre, with free-admission. But the National Weather Service forecast suggests that won’t be necessary, with clear skies and coolish temperatures expected.