10 Years of Music: Symphony in a Vicksburg sunset

Published 3:01 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2023

The 10th annual Symphony at Sunset was held at the Vicksburg National Military Park on Saturday evening as part of Vicksburg’s honoring of fallen service members on Memorial Day weekend.

The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra played a number of movie scores for concertgoers behind the backdrop of the sunset in what turned out to be very agreeable weather.

Music Director and Conductor of the orchestra, Crafton Beck, spoke about why he was excited to bring music to Vicksburg.

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“We get music so seldom in our lives. My great-grandparents sang around the dinner table with their families in the 1900s and the 19th century. We don’t do that anymore in our lives. We don’t sing anymore. We don’t really dance that much in our culture anymore,” Beck said. “We’ve lost a lot of music in our schools. Even (with COVID) a lot of our church choirs are struggling to come back. Music is so seldom in our lives, and what we do with other people (like churches and schools) is try to bring music into people’s lives… I just want people to remember the glory of live music-making.”

A cannon firing demonstration by park rangers and historical reenactors started the concert off with a bang, marking the first note of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The audience then enjoyed songs from a variety of beloved movies including “Indiana Jones,” “James Bond,” “Harry Potter” and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Beck explained why he enjoyed playing film music at the event.

“It has a relevance. The movies reflect our times, they reflect our culture and our values, and so there’s a resonance,” Beck said. “I think this is why this music lives on. It’s why Lord of the Rings and the Raiders March lives on because Indiana Jones is kind of an archetypal hero of ours today in our culture.

The first Symphony at Sunset was held in 2013 as part of the Vicksburg Campaign’s 150-year anniversary.

More than 200 people attended the event, and Beck said he is looking forward to the symphony’s next visit to Vicksburg.