Popular – Cynthia Closkey

Photo credit: “Popped” by AMagill

Theme from Rocky” is an inspiring piece of music. It’s all the more stirring performed by a skilled symphony orchestra like the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops, as it was last week during their preview concert. I wanted to jump up and start running up and down the steps of Heinz Hall, and raise my arms in triumph.

The joy of a pops concert is hearing music you know well, performed live by expert performers. One might think of “pops” as short not for “popular music” but “populist music,” a counter to any presumed elitism inherent in classical music.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Pops aren’t political though. They are fun. As I tweeted during Tuesday’s preview, “Marvin Hamlisch is a card,” joking with the audience and the orchestra, chatting with a six-year-old sitting in the front row and eating cereal, and improvising a short tune to inspire us to subscribe to the season. The audience loved him and loved the music. I heard the older gentleman seated to my left humming along with a Gershwin tune, and everyone in the nearly-full house clapped along with “Seventy-Six Trombones.”

Granted, not everyone may love the Pops. If the thought of humming or clapping along with the orchestra appalls you, you might have an uncomfortable time. But the rest of us will be clapping, laughing, humming, and just plain enjoying ourselves, perhaps a little lowbrow but in decidedly high spirits.

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