Hagy makes a few changes to this year's program

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2011

By Joanie Morris
For the Salisbury Post
SALISBURY — David Hagy is not new to directing concerts with the Salisbury Symphony — he’s been maestro for 23 years — and he is certainly not new to Pops at the Post.
But every year, he tries to do something new for the crowd. This year, he’s incorporated several new things into the program. This year, for example, there will be no theme.
“I started out this year trying to make things match a theme and the more I tried to make everything match what seemed to be the circumstances going on, the less it fit any one theme this year,” he said. Instead, Hagy has chosen music he hopes the crowd will like, dealing with timely events.
After the standard opening — the John Williams arrangement of “Star Spangled Banner” complete with cannons — the Salisbury Symphony will move on to songs with ties to current events.
This year, he’s decided on the “Crown Imperial,” a march by Sir William Walton written for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth and played at the conclusion of the April wedding of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
From there, the group will move on to movies.
“I try to do things that reflect recent film highlights,” said Hagy. “Since ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ just opened its fourth (feature film), we’re doing themes from the first of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movies, a ‘Pirates’ medley.”
Every year, Hagy also tries to incorporate a medley from the Kennedy Center honoree in music. This year’s honoree was Jerry Herman, the composer of ‘La Cage aux Folles,’ ‘Hello Dolly!’ and other Broadway musicals.
He first wanted to end the first half of the show with a medley culminating with “The Best of Times is Now” to reflect that current times aren’t as bad as they seem.
“I think during this economic downturn, it’s something to remember,” said Hagy. “Things are not as bad as they could be.”
When Hagy went to Herman’s Web site, he saw an email address, which supposedly went directly to Herman.
“I thought, ‘That can’t be,’ ” said Hagy. In spite of his misgivings about the authenticity of the address, Hagy decided to write anyway. “I just by chance wrote this email address and said how much I loved his musicals. I went on and said I would like to do (an arrangement of his songs).”
Hagy thought he’d get a generated response thanking him for his compliments in five months or so, but a few days later, he got a call from New York City.
“They said they had gotten a call from Herman,” said an amazed Hagy. Apparently, Herman was at the beach, received Hagy’s compliments and called his “people” in New York City. “He wanted to help us get the arrangement that he knew about.”
After some quick research — and for expenses only — Hagy had an entire arrangement of Herman songs for the symphony to play.
“I was extremely amazed that I had reached Jerry Herman personally,” said Hagy. “Now we’re doing an arrangement of a variety of songs from Jerry Herman shows. It’s not correct on the fan program because I hadn’t had this yet. …
“The last song in the medley is “The Best of Times,” Hagy added. “It will still end with that song, which is exactly what I wanted.”
From there, the concert will continue with a duet by Rowan County economic development chief Robert Van Geons and his wife Tara; an audience sing-along of “This Land is Your Land,” including lyrics on big screens provided by Miller Davis Studios; a medley of songs from Carole King’s “Tapestry” to honor the 40th anniversary of that album; and the first-half conclusion.
“Given the recent growth in Salisbury’s Latin community as well as the challenges of a variety of gangs in our area, were doing part of the “Symphonic Dances from ‘West Side Story,’ ” said Hagy. Immediately following the songs from “West Side Story,” the Salisbury Ecumenical Choir will sing “Let There be Peace on Earth.”
The second half will be fairly standard, Hagy said. The Salisbury Ecumenical Choir will open with “Go Light Your World,” a gospel tune. That first song changes every year, but from there, it’s mostly the same. The “1812 Overture” as well as the John Phillip Souza marches “The Washington Post March” — playfully renamed “The Salisbury Post March” for the concert as a nod to its location on the newspaper’s loading docks — and “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
From there, it’s the two encores — the first of which is always a surprise and the second, “America the Beautiful.”
Hagy said it’s an honor to be able to provide an outdoor concert to the community. It is something he’s heard rumblings about for years.
“The problem always was the area to do it in,” he said. “A covered area for the orchestra that’s acoustically sound in front of a large enough blank area that people can actually be an audience in. That’s a major difficulty. Large communities build giant facilities to enable their towns to do this kind of thing.”
To Hagy, Salisbury’s lucky to have the outdoor venue so readily available. And he’s lucky that he gets to do what he loves for a group of people to appreciate.
Joanie Morris is a freelance writer. She can be reached at 704-797-4248 or news@salisburypost.com.