On July 3, the sound of 15,000 paper bags popping like cannons in the Amphitheater will rival the fireworks on July Fourth — not to mention the vocal cords of fiery Broadway soprano Michele Ragusa belting out “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”
The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra’s annual Independence Day Celebration concert will rip-roar to life at 8 p.m. tonight. Featuring CSO timpanist Stuart Chafetz as the guest conductor for the 10th consecutive year, the concert will also spotlight Ragusa on several Broadway selections, and the audience will play its traditional role as the cannons in Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”
Chafetz buys the paper bags himself, after testing which size creates the best sound.
“They’re No. 4 bags — that’s the number. No. 5 is too heavy, No. 3 is not quite the right sound,” Chafetz said. “There I was (in Sam’s Club) practicing, trying the different bags, blowing them up and popping them to hear the kind of sound.”