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Heckscher a showcase for LI Philharmonic

The Islip Arts Council's 33rd annual philharmonicperformance will go on - though not quite as planned.Last month the New York Philharmonic canceled its annual date at HeckscherState Park in East Islip, as well as its other free concerts outside the city.The arts council quickly invited the Long Island Philharmonic to perform in itsplace for the July 18 concert.

In accepting the invitation yesterday, Stephen Belth, the Long Islandorchestra's executive director, said, "This concert is pretty exciting for us.It's a great opportunity for exposure to a larger audience and a perfect way tocelebrate our 30th anniversary."

"Last year over 65,000 people were in attendance," noted Islip Arts Councilexecutive director Lynda Moran, adding that the annual free concert "isperhaps the largest, most anticipated summer event on the Island. We're veryexcited that maestro David Stewart Wiley and the Long Island Philharmonic arecelebrating their anniversary with us."

In canceling many of its free concerts, the New York Philharmonic cited theeconomic downturn and a loss of sponsors. While no additional sponsors havecommitted yet, "We couldn't wait if we are to keep this important traditionalive," Belth said. He estimated the cost of providing sound, lighting and aconcert stage for a park like Hecksher State "is probably in the six figures."The "Music in the Park" concert, starting at 8 p.m., will feature Americancomposers George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, John Philip Sousa, John Williamsand Long Island's Billy Joel - of late, a classical music composer.The park opens hours early for the concert and draws families and musiclovers - who picnic on the park grounds before the first note is struck andstick around for a Grucci fireworks finale.

The fireworks will be back this year, too, Moran said. The pyrotechnicswill be accompanied by the appropriately bombastic "1812 Overture" byTchaikovsky.

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