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Kristin Tutino
Creative Services Department


Press Releases

Saturday, July 4 at 8 p.m. A Capitol Fourth

(Rochester, NY) Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Jimmy Smits returns to host the biggest and brightest birthday party in the country, A Capitol Fourth, airing Saturday, July 4 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV(DT21.1/ cable 1011/cable11). The program features for the first time ever, Barry Manilow, who will both open and close the concert broadcast with a stirring medley of hits and patriotic classics along with the National Symphony Orchestra and the Choral Arts Society of Washington. Joining him will be the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, international pop sensation Natasha Bedingfield, the Tony and Grammy Award-winning cast of Jersey Boys, multi Grammy Award-nominee Michael Feinstein and acclaimed classical pianist Andrew von Oeyen.

This star-studded cast will light up the stage on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol for the 29th annual A Capitol Fourth celebration featuring unrivaled musical performances with the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of America’s prince of pops Erich Kunzel. As a special treat for the entire family, Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch and more of the Sesame Street gang will be on hand to celebrate America’s 233rd birthday. The Muppets will perform a musical medley of patriotic favorites, as well as iconic songs that everyone knows and loves from this breakthrough children’s television series, celebrating 40 years of fun and learning. 

The multi-award winning A Capitol Fourth broadcasts live before an anticipated audience of hundreds of thousands, millions more at home and, through the American Forces Radio and Television Network, to troops serving around the world. The concert can also be heard live in stereo on NPR member stations nationwide.

The skyline of the nation’s capital will come alive with vibrant and booming pyrotechnics, set against silhouettes of national landmarks: the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials.A Capitol Fourth will capture this stunning fireworks display from every vantage point with TV cameras stationed around the city — including the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the Washington Monument and across the Potomac River. Capping off the show will be a rousing rendition of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” complete with live cannon fire provided by the United States Army Presidential Salute Battery, an audience favorite and A Capitol Fourth tradition. Also participating in the event will be The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The U.S. Army Ceremonial Band, The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and the Armed Forces Color Guard provided by the Military District of Washington, DC. 

Commented Smits, “I am honored to be asked once again to host this year’s special party to celebrate our great country’s birthday …and what a ‘guest list!’ The music itself embraces so many genres — we’ve got pop, we’ve got classical and we’ve got soul. Throw in an anniversary celebration of Sesame Street, topped off with the biggest fireworks display around, and we’ve got quite a show!”

A Capitol Fourth's Web site, pbs.org/capitolfourth, includes concert information, interviews, history and background, photos, patriotic reflections, a quiz, a page for viewer comments and more.

Pictured: Fireworks over the Capital
Credit: Capitol Concert


WXXI is the essential, life-long educational media resource for the Greater Rochester area. WXXI puts the community first with programming that stimulates and expands thought, inspires the spirit, opens cultural horizons and promotes understanding of diverse community issues. Log on to wxxi.org for more information about our services and programs.