David Hagy: About the Pops at the Post program
By David Hagy
Special to the Salisbury Post
It is my sincere hope that the programming of the Pops at the Post concert is enjoyable to the widest variety of our citizens. Each year I begin the concert with our national anthem and end it with Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture and Sousa’s “Washington Post” and “Stars and Stripes Forever” marches. I then prepare two encores including Carmen Dragon’s arrangement of “America, the Beautiful.”
I do the Tchaikovsky in the spirit of the Boston Pops 4th of July concerts. They have done the Tchaikovsky annually since 1973 as a symbol of our country’s battles for our freedom. I always include the first march, affectionately retitled as the “Salisbury Post March” in honor of the organization that began this annual concert. I do the “Stars and Stripes Forever” as the nation’s official march as declared by Ronald Reagan and passed by Congress in 1987. I do “America, the Beautiful” as the final encore because I feel it ends the concert in a communally patriotic spirit and that Dragon’s arrangement is the most stirring version of that gorgeous anthem. It has been my thought that most people want to hear the pieces that I repeat year after year because of their familiarity, popularity and grandeur.
Each year I try to provide a variety of selections that includes a jazzy piece, a rock song. a classical selection, something featuring at least one, if not several, Rowan County musicians, and something that both senior citizens and youth will recognize. I also try to challenge the musicians with what they can do well in the three rehearsals they have.
I do have a personal political view which I try to keep out of my concerts, although I will always do pieces that reflect a respect for equal human rights as I would expect every American to espouse and appreciate.
With regards to another venue for the concert, I personally feel that this unique space is an amazing gift of an acoustically “sound” space in the downtown area of a small town that should never be replaced. Having local churches ringing their bells in the 1812 is a most unique opportunity and to have this event a block from the center of town must be the envy of small towns across the country. The committee organizing this huge event works every year to improve the sight, sound and offerings of the entire event.
Regarding the cannon fire, a change two years ago in the law controlling the availability of blasting powder has kept us from having the live explosions for the cannons that we had in earlier years, but we continue to work with the digital effect to make it as authentic and effective as it can be.
In conclusion, I try to program works that reflect recent events, to feature talented local musicians, and to create a varied and yet somehow coordinated program. I am always open to suggestions of themes, specific pieces, or general ideas. I will listen to all suggestions and try to create a balanced and varied program. If you would like to submit ideas please write them on the Pops at the Post Facebook page (https://www. facebook.com/Popsatthe Post), and I will get them. I look forward to many more of these concerts if those who support them continue to feel as I do that this is a great Salisbury event. It is my favorite day and night in Salisbury and I hope it can be one of yours!
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David Hagy is conductor of the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra.