SALISBURY, MD---What do Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Waterloo (Iowa) and Salisbury have in common? They are now all cities with “Pops” orchestras. Lee Knier, a fixture with the Salisbury Symphony, the Mid-Atlantic Symphony and other regional musical ensembles, conducts the inaugural concert of the new Salisbury Pops on Tuesday, December 9, at 7:30 p.m. in Holloway Hall Auditorium at Salisbury University.
“I wanted to establish a ‘Pops’ format for several reasons, one of which is the family-friendly nature of Pops performances. Our December 9 concert is 75 minutes long—the audience will be out before 9 p.m. I can’t think of a better way to introduce children to live music than a pops concert—without wearing out dad or granddad—and admission is free!” Knier said.
“The Pops (short for popular) repertoire also allows us to be inclusive, and less formal,” he added. Knier calls the concert a “holiday party” reminiscent of an Andy Williams or Perry Como Christmas special. Like those TV classics, special guests will drop by. For example, tenor John Wesley Wright will chat with the conductor as well as sing some popular or well-know carols, including gospel. Solo trumpeter Glenn Luedke, formerly of the U.S. Army Band, performs an upbeat “The Toy Trumpet,” popularized by Al Hirt and the Boston Pops, a tune from an animated short about a little boy getting his first trumpet and showing how his personality, both good and bad, comes out as he plays.
A father reflects upon the ongoing Civil War during Christmastime when Dr. Charles Smith, conductor of the Salisbury Concerts in the Park summer series, narrates “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” based on the Longfellow poem, with accompaniment by the Tintinnabulators, the hand bell choir of the Wicomico Presbyterian Church.
Classic and contemporary holiday favorites include selections from The Nutcracker and a Broadway-style medley titled “Chanukah Celebration.”
A visit by Santa, who’ll also sit in with the orchestra, and a sing-along promise to send the audience out smiling.
“Pops concerts are a 20th century tradition,” Knier said, inspired by summer evenings in Vienna’s concert gardens. The Boston Pops concerts under Arthur Fiedler, then John Williams, turned them into American institutions and were for many years a staple of Public Television. Part of their appeal is “hearing musicians having a good time” in a varied program that might range from Broadway and movie show tunes to “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” Knier said.
The inaugural concert by the Salisbury Pops has a holiday theme, but future performances promise to be as varied as those by such institutions as the Boston, New York and Philadelphia Pops, which often include folk, country, classical and jazz guest artists.
The 40-member Salisbury Pops has evolved from the University Concert Band, which Knier has directed while teaching at SU for the last six years. A professional trombonist as well as teacher, Knier has played backup to ensembles and performers from the Lawrence Welk Show and also toured with the Glenn Miller Orchestra under Buddy DeFranco.
For more information on the inaugural Salisbury Pops concert, call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www. salisbury.edu.