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Monday, October 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A&E >  Music

Royal Fireworks Concert returns to Riverfront Park

UPDATED: Thu., July 25, 2019

Fireworks light up the night sky at the conclusion of the 35th annual Royal Fireworks Concert on July 28, 2013, in Riverfront Park. After a two-year hiatus, the concert is returning Sunday. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Fireworks light up the night sky at the conclusion of the 35th annual Royal Fireworks Concert on July 28, 2013, in Riverfront Park. After a two-year hiatus, the concert is returning Sunday. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

The Royal Fireworks Concert in Riverfront Park is set to return Sunday after a two-year hiatus.

For organizer and conductor David Dutton, that means a return to Spokane tradition dating back to 1978, when about 5,000 people first took to the water’s edge of the Spokane River.

“It’s always a big deal,” he said. “I’m very excited.”

Picking up where it left off, the free event is planned for Sunday evening on the south bank of the Spokane River near the Spokane Convention Center.

It will feature a ballet show by the Spokane Ballet Studio greeting guests as they make their way through the breezeway from 7-8 p.m., before the orchestra plays at 9 p.m. Then around 10 p.m., a 15-minute fireworks show synced to the music.

The concert will include a performance by the 60-piece Royal Band that will play multiple songs, chief among them George Frideric Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks” from 1749. After all, that iconic melody is where the Spokane concert drew inspiration.

New this year are about eight food trucks in the Lilac Bowl in the park serving barbecue, pizza, shaved ice and kettle corn.

Dutton, who’s also a conductor for the Royal Band, said Convention Center construction barred the performance the past two years.

“Because of that, we just couldn’t get in there,” he said.

Also new this year is a planned appearance by author and TV personality Richard Bangs, who will narrate Chief Seattle’s speech – given in 1854 during the concession of native lands to the settlers – over William Billings’ Revolutionary War tune “When Jesus Wept.”

Dutton said Bangs is flying in from the country Georgia. He also recently climbed Mount Everest.

After years of declining sponsorships and increased costs, Dutton said he hopes to see thousands filling the steps by the river, just as it was in the concert’s heyday.

Riverfront Park Director Jonathan Moog said city staff were excited for its return.

“There’s something for everyone,” he said. “It’s always a family favorite.”

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