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Symphony’s July 4th show extra-special for violinist

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ANNVILLE, Pa. -- Evelyn Estava takes her seat in the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, fourth row to the left of center, second chair from the front. The violinist has played with the Harrisburg Symphony since 2002, and the annual July 4th show has always been her favorite.

"I love it when we do the 'Stars and Stripes,'" Estava said. "It gives you goosebumps."

Two years ago, playing on the Fourth of July took on extra meaning. In September 2012, Estava, a Venezuela-native currently living in New Jersey, became a United States citizen.

"It was always great (to play July 4th) but it's become more significant since I became a citizen," she said. "It's fantastic to take part in the celebration."

The celebration is one which spans five days for the Harrisburg Symphony. On Thursday, they kicked off their annual free concert series at Lebanon Valley College. Their traditional July 4th concert will take place at Metro Bank Park on Harrisburg's City Island at 7:30 p.m. Fireworks will follow around 9:30 p.m.

Harrisburg Symphony PracticeStuart Malina has been the Harrisburg Symphony's music director for the last 15 years. He estimates his orchestra will play for upwards of 30,000 people over the five-show span.

"One of the highlights of these outdoor concerts are the young kids dancing, standing behind me and waving their arms and the smiles they get," Malina said. "Hopefully, we're making music lovers of the future."

If you're unable to catch their July 4 concert, here's where you can watch their other shows:

July 3: Negley Park, Cumberland Road, Lemoyne, 8 p.m. Rain location: Capital City Airport, 210 Airport Road, New Cumberland.

July 4: Metro Bank Park, City Island, Harrisburg, 7:30 p.m. Rain location: The Forum, 500 Walnut St., Harrisburg.

July 5: Dickinson College, 28 N. College St., Carlisle, 7:30 p.m. Rain location: ATS Auditorium, Dickinson College.

July 6: Juniata High School, 3931 William Penn Highway, Mifflintown, 7:30 p.m.

If you're going to attract an audience, making the concerts free is the best way to do it. Each concert costs the Harrisburg Symphony approximately $22,000, according to Executive Director Jeff Woodruff. However, thanks to sponsorships, donations, and other organizations helping to front the cost, these five shows are free to the public.

Peter Sirotin is the Symphony's Concert Master, and is Maestro Malina's right hand man. He says the summer series' biggest strength is its informality.

"It gives us a chance to connect with people who don't necessarily come to classical music concerts all the time," Sirotin said. "And it gives them an opportunity to experience the awesomeness of live orchestra." Harrisburg Symphony Practice

Malina knows the audience for the next few nights isn't the standard symphony crowd which comes to The Forum to see shows. In past July 4 shows at Metro Bank Park, he ditched the composer coattails for a baseball jersey. His set list often times matches his personality, with Broadway showtunes (Phantom of the Opera), classic movie scores (E.T. is a traditional favorite), and American favorites (Irving Berlin's "God Bless America") dominating the show with classical music sprinkled in between. Meanwhile, Malina not only plays composer to his Symphony, but to his patrons as well.

"I love the interaction with the audience," Malina said. "In these concerts, I can talk to the audience whenever I want and say whatever I want and that really is exciting for me."