Saturday, June 3, 2023

Fireworks on the Fourth by B.J. Bowen | Blog Tour with Guest Post and Giveaway


Fireworks on the Fourth (A Musical Murder Mystery) by B.J. Bowen

About Fireworks on the Fourth

Fireworks on the Fourth (A Musical Murder Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting - Colorado
Camel Press (May 9, 2023)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1684921112
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1684921119
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BVXNVBK1 

The fiery festivities of the Symphony's annual Fourth of July extravaganza feature cannons, liberty bells, and fireworks. But the noise covers gunshots which leave a shifty Board member dead and Emily Wilson's friend, KC, the prime suspect. Can Emily face down blackmail, danger, and a threat to her loyal companion to find the killer?


About the Guest Post

Many Musings, Mostly Musical — 1812 Overture

In my new cozy mystery, Fireworks on the Fourth, the murder is committed with a gun during the Symphony’s outdoor performance of the 1812 Overture. Nobody notices. How is this possible?

The 1812 Overture is a noisemaker of epic proportions. Though it starts quietly, by the highpoint Tchaikovsky’s original score, celebrating the successful Russian defense against Napoleon’s army in 1812, called for extra brass in addition to the regular symphony brass section, which play only during the finale. Military or marching bands sometimes play this part. The percussion section is also greatly expanded. Besides the timpani, bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, tambourine, and triangle we are familiar with, the score calls for carillon bells (massive bells suspended from a crosswise bar, freely rung by bellringers for maximum sound). Artillery, in the form of cannon or field artillery is also called for. The sound is so loud that, during my time in the symphony, there were lawsuits because walls in the immediate neighborhood cracked. (Sorry, I don’t know how those cases came out.) 

On top of all that, thanks to a 1974 performance by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, the work has become the traditional accompaniment for fireworks displays. So, in my mystery, the sound of one small gun firing, with a suppressor, and any flash it makes, are overlooked by the audience in the commotion of the piece’s climax. As Emily Wilson, my protagonist, describes it: I couldn’t hear the sound of my flute over the massive, suspended carillon bells ringing madly, and the eight cannon from the nearby military base firing continuous volleys. The climactic moment of this year’s annual outdoor Fourth of July performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture had come again, and synchronized fireworks exploded high in the Colorado sky behind me.

Tchaikovsky, who hated the piece and only composed it for the fee, cranked it out in six weeks, and described it as “very loud and noisy and completely without artistic merit, obviously written without warmth or love.” He felt that its popularity and audience love of the piece proved the peoples’ love of spectacle and theatre, rather than music. (Wikipedia, 2023)

In this time of the Russian attack on Ukraine, some might question the moral integrity of playing a piece celebrating Russian victory. However, according to Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, in a broader historical sense, 1812 is the celebration of the victory of native forces over an invading foreign army (Napoleon’s military). In other words, the Russia of 1812 was the Ukraine of its time. 

Certainly, Emily, in 2013, the year in which the book is set, would not have been thinking about such considerations. She is just concerned about protecting her hearing with specially made musicians’ ear plugs, completing the performance, and finding her party of friends and relatives after the event.

If you’re not a classical music fan, 1812 may be most familiar as the theme of Quaker Oats Puffed Wheat and Rice Cereal, Woody Allen’s soundtrack to a love scene in Bananas, the Swingle Singers acapella version, or an excerpt from the movie V for Vendetta.

Do you know 1812? In what context? Have you attended an outdoor performance of the 1812 Overture? Did it feature cannon and fireworks? Did you find it inspiring? Let us know in the comments section below.


About B.J. Bowen

Barbara Bowen is a freelance writer. She was a finalist and Honorable Mention in the 2018 Focus: Eddy Awards for her article, “Letting Go with Grace,” published in Unity Magazine. Ms. Bowen is also an accomplished professional oboist who played throughout Mexico and with the Colorado Springs Symphony for nineteen years.

Drawing on her quirky fellow musicians and orchestral experiences, she created the mystery series, Musical Murders. The first is Music is Murder (Release date, 6-9-21). The second is Ballistics at the Ballet (Release date 9-14-2022). The third is Fireworks on the Fourth (Release date 5-9-2023).

She is a member of Sisters in Crime, lives in Colorado with two canine friends, and has a song for any occasion.

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